Britain in 1846 was a nation in the grip of dramatic change.
As the Industrial Revolution reached its height, people were flooding from countryside to city; the railways were spreading; starvation and destitution existed alongside immense wealth and power, generating profound social tensions.
And seismic change was afoot in the world of politics. Parliament's repeal of the protectionist Corn Laws eroded the powers of the landowners and ushered in an age of free trade that would form the basis of Britain's future wealth and industiral prosperity.
Stephen Bates paints a kaleidoscopic portrait of a pivotal year in British history - and of a society on the cusp of modernity.