Pet Revolution tracks the British love affair with pets over the last two centuries, showing how the kinds of pets we keep, as well as how we relate to and care for them, has changed radically. The book describes the growth of pet foods and medicines, the rise of pet shops, and the development of veterinary care, creating the pet economy. Most importantly, pets have played a powerful emotional role in families across all social classes, creating new kinds of relationships and home lives.
For the first time, through a history of companion animals and the humans who lived with them, this book puts the story of the 'pet revolution' alongside other revolutions – industrial, agricultural, political – to highlight how animals contributed to modern British life
Jane Hamlett is a Professor of Modern British History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and her books include Material Relations: Middle-Class Families and Domestic Interiors in England, 1850-1910 (2010).
Julie-Marie Strange is a Professor of Modern British History at Durham University, and her books include The Invention of the Modern Dog: Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain (with Michael Worboys and Neil Pemberton, 2018).
"This fascinating book combines very extensive historical research with a keen interest in animals' wellbeing. It provides a subtle analysis of the gendered aspects of pet ownership, and is especially enlightening when the authors discuss the experiences of working people and their animal companions across two centuries"
– Diana Donald, author of Women Against Cruelty: Protection of Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2019)
"Pet Revolution chronicles the increasing integration of pets into British life in fresh and fascinating detail. It shows how the definition of 'pet' narrowed over the last two centuries, as pet ownership spread through all social classes and the status of non-human animals evolved. The broad range of sources and engaging illustrations document the intense commitment that pets (or animal companions, as they are sometimes termed currently) inspired in their humans."
– Harriet Ritvo, Arthur J. Conner Emeritus Professor of History, MIT
"From pet economics to pet cemeteries, this wonderfully engaging history explains the changing role of pets over two hundred years. It is as entertaining as it is informative, comprising charming stories and smart analysis."
– Claire Langhamer, Director of the Institute of Historical Research, London
"The two authors are both history professors [...] so they should be well placed to tell, as the publisher put it, the 'story of the "pet revolution" alongside other revolutions – industrial, agricultural, political – to highlight how animals contributed to modern British life. The book describes the growth of pet foods and medicines, the rise of pet shops and the development of veterinary care creating the pet economy."
– The Oldie
"From guard animals to becoming a beloved family member, animals have offered humans love and companionship for hundreds of years. Hamlett and Strange [chart] the evolution of pet ownership across the centuries."
– The Sunday Post, Scotland
"Hamlett and Strange state that their aim is to chart 200 years of pet-keeping in order to 'understand how pets became so integral to the British and their homes'. In this richly detailed and enjoyable history, they have achieved their purpose."
– The Daily Mail