book preview

Jobs for the Boys is not your conventional family history. It is a story of commerce, feminism, slavery, architecture, conservation and invention along with madness, badness and a benign nepotism – hence the title.

Jobs for the Boys is a portrait of one inter-dependent Victorian family who made alkali, war and the Empire. They were politicians and feminists; they dredged the River Tyne, started newspapers and developed electric light. The architect in the family, JJ Stevenson, pioneered the ‘Queen Anne Revival’ and designed houses, offices and tombs for his relatives. The family lawyer drew up their wills; the family blacksmith made their gates and the family dentist looked after their teeth.

The Stevensons commissioned paintings and ocean-going liners, fathered illegitimate children, owned yachts and a volcanic island, had liaisons with royals and founded the Kruger National Park. They were suffragists and gaol birds, explorers and syphilitics; they got messily divorced, followed the US civil war and explored the Amazon.

Family members met Queen Victoria and Lord Tennyson, Cecil Rhodes and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Gilbert and Sullivan, Mrs Pankhurst, the Emperor Franz Josef, Swan and Edison – and top Nazis.

  • Jobs for the Boys is a superbly produced softback of 380 pages.
  • The story starts in Lanarkshire in 1731 and covers every continent of the world.
  • Hew Stevenson has researched six generations of his family (of which he is the seventh) from his huge archive collection.
  • The book has 417 illustrations, most never before published.
  • The research uses 70% of primary sources – diaries, letters and word of mouth.
View Chapters