William Collins scoops Paxman's history of how coal made Britain

William Collins scoops Paxman's history of how coal made Britain

William Collins has scooped a new history of Britain by renowned broadcaster, journalist and author Jeremy Paxman.

Publishing director Arabella Pike bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain from David Godwin at David Godwin Associates. It will be published in hardback and e-book on 30th September. Paxman will also be reading the audiobook.

The publisher said: "Coal is the commodity that made Britain. Dirty and polluting though it is, this black rock acted as a midwife to genius and prosperity. It lit a fire beneath religion, politics, empire and trade. It powered the industrial revolution, turned Britain into the first urban nation and is the industry that made almost all others possible. It is the bedrock to Britain’s history." 

The book tells the story of coal mining in England, Scotland and Wales through the people it affected, ranging from Roman times through the birth of steam power to war, nationalisation, pea-souper smogs, industrial strife and the picket lines of the miners' strike. Paxman explores stories of engineers and inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists, and the aristocrats whose wealth ballooned after the discovery of coal seams beneath their acres.

William Collins said: "While the rich inevitably became richer, the story told by Black Gold is first and foremost a history of the working miners: the men, women and often children who toiled in appalling conditions down in the mines; the villages that were thrown up around the pit-head; the brass bands, nonconformist religion and passionate horticulture that flourished in mining communities. And the development of trade unionism and the Labour movement as tight bonds of comradeship were formed underground.

"Black Gold is a story of human ingenuity and opportunity, sacrifice and devastating loss. With almost all traces of coal mining now gone, Jeremy Paxman will reveal just how much we still owe to the black stuff."

Pike said: "Written in the style of his bestselling social history The English (Penguin), Black Gold takes us deep down the mine shafts and into the heart of Britain’s industrial revolution. It is Paxo back to writing at his brilliant best."

Paxman added: "Everyone seems to want to forget coal. But this grubby rock was the commodity which forged Britain. It made enormous fortunes, ruined lives and fashioned politics. The story of coal is the story of Britain."