Cheek by Jowl : A History of Neighbours, Paperback Book

Cheek by Jowl : A History of Neighbours Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Almost everyone has a neighbour. Neighbours can enrich or ruin our lives. They fascinate and worry us in equal measure. Soap operas watched by millions play with every lurid permutation of relationships in fictional neighbourhoods.

Disputes over gigantic Leylandii and noise nuisance turn nasty and fill newspaper columns.

These stories have a rich history - as long as we have lived in shelters, we have had neighbours.

Emily Cockayne traces the story of the British neighbour through nine centuries - spanning Medieval, Tudor and Victorian periods, two world wars and up to today's modern, virtual world. "Cheek by Jowl" is social history at its most colourful and compelling and puts the people back in the houses and the houses back on the streets.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social & cultural history
  • ISBN: 9780099546948

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Although subtitled 'A History of Neighbours', Cheek by Jowl is more a social history of housing, town planning, public health and the effects these have had on community relations over time. A lot of the book is gossipy, snatches of tittle tattle about neighbours falling out. Some of it is funny. Most of all the book acts as a digest of other people's research, where neighbourly relations might have been mentioned in a wider historical context. Cockayne has seemingly used her literature review to populate the narrative she wanted to employ. Why not? This is popular history, not a rigorous academic text. Anyone wanting more depth can read the many books and published reports Cockayne references. Anyone who merely wants a peep at what neighbourly life has been like over a 600 year stretch of British history will be satisfied by this chatty book. Occasionally there are non-sequeteurs, where an anecdote is shoe horned into the narrative without any consideration of its relevance to what has gone before. Sometimes these jar, but by and large it's an enjoyable book.

Also by Emily Cockayne