An original exploration of all the ordinary, extraordinary and totally mad things we've thrown out and redeemed through the ages.
Rummage tells the overlooked story of our throwaway past. Emily Cockayne extracts glittering gems from the rubbish pile of centuries past and introduces us to the visionaries, crooks and everyday do-gooders who have shaped the material world we live in today - like the fancy ladies of the First World War who turned dog hair into yarn, or the Victorian gentlemen selling pianofortes made from papier-mache, or the hapless public servants coaxing people into giving up their railings for the greater good.
In this original and fascinating new history, Cockayne illuminates our relationship to our rubbish: from the simple question of how we reuse and recycle things (and which is better), to all the weird and wonderful ways it's been done in the past. She exposes the hidden work (often done by women) that has gone into shaping the world for each future generation, and she shows what lessons can be drawn from the past to address urgent questions of our waste today.
Emily Cockayne is a senior lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia. She is author of Hubbub: Filth, Noise & Stench in England (2007), cited by Toni Morrison a key source for A Mercy, and Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours (2012).
Social & cultural history