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History of the World

(seen through my family library)

By JJ Heath-Caldwell

I have for many years been a very enthusiastic collector and custodian of old books.  Many of these volumes are from my various ancestor’s libraries, particularly the library at Linley Wood in Staffordshire which was for many years the home of my Caldwell ancestors.  Over time I have uncovered many fascinating pieces of information about these people and along the way I have developed a keen interest in history.  It has been a steady journey of discovery and it has provided me with endless hours of amusement.

For some time, I have wanted to write a family history about these ancestors but if I were to write such a book, I think it would only be read by a small audience. 

I have also thought that it would be great to write a history of the library, but of course this would mainly be a very long list of the book titles.  While the list of books has been of great interest to me, I think most people would find the subject rather monotonous.

After further thought, I decided to write a combination of the following:

  1. Some history of Linley Wood, the Caldwell family home.
  2. Information about the books in the library and the subjects covered within.
  3. Short biographies of my ancestors and stories about some of their friends.
  4. A light overview of some of the big events that were happening at the time.

Adding this altogether gives a history of the world, as seen through the books in my family library.  This is really a window into the past and a history of civilization.

The first chapter gives an overview of how I became interested in history.  I have also presented some of my own experiences and joys of hunting down information and piecing it together.

I then give a short history of family libraries and how they developed.  As mentioned above, my case study is the library of my Caldwell ancestors who lived in a large house in Staffordshire called Linley Wood.  After giving an overview of these Caldwells and their relatives, I then launch into a history of the world, as viewed through the books and various relics which were (and in many cases still are) in my family.

You may not have a particular interest in the books or any connection with my ancestors, but I hope that you will find this story worth reading.  It is a history of the world but in particular it is a light overview of many of the historical events that have caught my interest (all condensed into a single volume).

The index of chapters is as follows:

  1. The Fun of Hunting for Historical Information
  2. Early Libraries
  3. The Caldwell family and their Library at Linley Wood (1789 to 1949)
  4. Who were the early Caldwells?
  5. History of the World: Early Civilizations (before AD 600)
  6. History of the World: After the Roman Empire (600-1400)
  7. History of the World: Exploration and Reformation (1400-1660)
  8. History of the World: The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution (1660-1700)
  9. History of the World: How to Make Serious Money (1700-1789)
  10. History of the World: The French Revolution and the Rise of the British Empire (1789-1815)
  11. History of the World: After the Napoleonic Wars (1815-1837)
  12. History of the World: Early Victorian Era (1837-1860)
  13. History of the World: Later Victorian Era (1860-1901)
  14. History of the World: Post Victorian Era (1901 to 1949)
  15. The End of the Linley Wood Estate: 1949

Appendix 1: Inventory Abbreviations
Appendix 2: A Walk Through the Interior of Linley Wood as it probably was in 1925
Appendix 3: Family Trees

Click here to download a free pdf copy (12Mb).

Click here to see a 4 minute video about the project:

Click here to see an 18 minute video about the project:

There is a small printrun limited to 100 copies.
This is a high quality hardback production with colour illustrations throughout. 
Copies can be ordered from JJ Heath-Caldwell at a cost of £25 plus postage.  UK postage will be £3, USA airmail £20, NZ airmail £25.

To order a copy please contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.