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A charming, funny, intelligent study of the history of neighbours from a talented young historian.

* Almost everyone has a neighbour. Neighbours can enrich or ruin our lives. They fascinate and worry us equally. Soap operas watched by millions play with every lurid permutation of relationship in fictional neighbourhoods. One is even called Neighbours.

* Petty disputes over gigantic Leylandii and noise nuisance turn nasty and fill newspaper columns. These stories have a rich history; as long as men have lived in shelters, they have had neighbours.

* Cheek by Jowl deploys rich historical evidence to show how neighbour relations have changed over time. It maps the complex threads of association between neighbours – on emotional, sexual, social, practical and economic levels.

* As people lived more densely together, and lifestyles diversified, the potential for neighbour nuisance and jealousy grew. In counterpoint to this, where communities of people emerged who shared an employer or an economic predicament, solidarity and mutual supportiveness could mitigate the hardships of life.


Vivid and absorbing...like all good history, it leaves the reader wanting to know more

Peter Wilby, New Statesman

Intelligent, instructive and brightly funny

Iain Finlayson, The Times

A lively study of neighbourly relations.

Philippa Stockley, Sunday Telegraph

A fine book packed with generosity, rivalry, misbehaviour, snobbery, love, murder and politics.

Alistair Mabbott, The Herald

I enjoyed Cockayne's book immediately

Rebecca Armstrong, Independent

This curtain-twitching account is bottom-up history at its breezy best

Michael Kerrigan, Scotsman

A great read

Penelope Lively, Spectator

An entirely delightful history of neighbour relations since the Middle Ages

Rupert Uloth, Country Life

A brisk but impressively comprehensive survey.

Reader's Digest

A very detailed historical survey of the upside and the downside of neighbouring since about 1300.

Peter Lewis, Daily Mail

A great insight into how our homes and communities have grown and changed.

Kate Whiting, PA syndicated review - Manchester Evening News

Original, humorously historical and wittily anecdotal.

Saga Magazine

This intriguing social history charts the concept of neighbours through British history in thorough detail

Big Issue in the North

Informative but fun, with an important message about society, Cockayne’s history is a human one, with all the heartache and joy that entails

Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday

This lively social history documents nine centuries of disputes, noise levels, wartime camaraderie and carparking issues. Fascinating

The Lady



The avowed aim of this fascinating history of neighbours is to explore the delicate balance between people’s determination to protect their privacy and their simultaneous wish to cultivate contact with those who live close by

Good Book Guide

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    April 15, 2013


    288 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 5, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au


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