Michelle Higgs is a freelance writer and author based in the West Midlands. She is passionate about history in all its forms, especially local history, genealogy and social history. When researching her books, she looks for the little details about how people lived and worked which really help to bring the past to life.
Her first book was Christmas Cards (Shire Books, 1999), which dealt with the history of Christmas cards and how to start a collection. She subsequently became fascinated by all things Victorian and progressed to writing a trilogy of books about the social history of three very different institutions. Life in the Victorian and Edwardian Workhouse and Prison Life in Victorian England were both published by The History Press in 2007, followed by Life in the Victorian Hospital in 2009.
Michelle's fifth book, Tracing Your Medical Ancestors, was published by Pen & Sword (2011). It is aimed specifically at people who have discovered a doctor, nurse or other medical professional in their family trees. Her next book in the same series was Tracing Your Servant Ancestors (2012) and is for anyone who wants to know more about their servant ancestor's working life.
A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England published by Pen & Sword (2014) was written to answer readers' questions about the minutiae of daily life in Victorian times from clothing and cuisine through to transport, toilet arrangements and everything in between. The book draws on a wide range of sources including diaries, letters, newspapers and contemporary travel guides to bring this period to life. Accurate historical details and compelling stories are woven together to create an accessible and entertaining guide.
Michelle has returned to the world of domestic service for her latest book: Servants' Stories: Life Below Stairs in their Own Words 1800-1950. It dispels the myth that servants only worked in large country houses like the fictional Downton Abbey. Servants’ Stories is a collection of 21 true tales of domestic service covering the period 1800 to 1950, told from the servants’ point of view. The book’s stories come from unpublished or out of print memoirs, diaries and oral histories, as well as interviews with ex-servants carried out by the author.
Full of strong, feisty characters, every story is written in the servants’ own words. Readers can find out more about the servant who got revenge on her mistress with a box of beetles; the housemaid who became a suffragette and trade unionist; and the cook who escaped an abusive home life by going into service, despite being partially disabled.
As a freelance writer, Michelle has written for a wide range of publications including Who Do You Think You Are?, Discover My Past and Your Family Tree.
When not writing or researching, Michelle enjoys the great outdoors, walking the dog, going to the cinema, watching tennis and reading. Visit her website at www.michellehiggs.co.uk