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  • Published: 3 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780099510789
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 592
  • RRP: $22.99


One Family, a Cup of Tea and the Company that Took On the World

A panoramic new history of modern Britain, as told through the story of one extraordinary family, and one groundbreaking company.

'I was riveted: this is a fascinating social history.' NIGELLA LAWSON

'Five stars... history on a scale at once intimate and grand.' TELEGRAPH

A panoramic new history of modern Britain, as told through the story of one extraordinary family, and one groundbreaking company.

This is the story of how a family transformed themselves from penniless immigrants to build a company that revolutionised the way we eat, drink and are entertained. For over a century, Lyons was everywhere. Its restaurants and corner houses were on every high street, its coffee and tea in every cup, its products in every home. But it was a victory that was not easily won.

Told through the lives of five generations, Legacy is at once intimate and sweeping, charting the tragedy and unimaginable success of one of Britain's most famous families. It is also an illuminating new exploration of Britain and its place in the world, from the bestselling author of Hanns and Rudolf and The House by the Lake.

'A magnificent book... endlessly fascinating.' JEWISH CHRONICLE

'How the Lyons company took on the world... a satisfying slab of dynastic history.' GUARDIAN, 'Book of the Day'

'Written with love and imagination... a masterclass in historical empathy.' TLS

'An affectionate and colourful family history.' FINANCIAL TIMES

'Rich... Fascinating... Harding is to be congratulated on this panoramic history.' EVENING STANDARD

'Endlessly fascinating and hard to put down... this is a tour de force.' JULIA NEUBERGER

  • Published: 3 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780099510789
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 592
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Thomas Harding

Thomas Harding is an author and journalist who has written for the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, among other publications. He co-founded a television station in Oxford, England, and for many years was an award-winning documentary maker. He also ran a local newspaper in West Virginia, winning the West Virginia Association of Justice’s Journalist of the Year Award, before moving back to England in 2011, where he now lives with his family. He is the author of Hanns and Rudolf, a Sunday Times bestseller and winner of the JQ-Wingate Prize; the internationally acclaimed Kadian Journal: A Father’s Story; The House by the Lake, a Costa Biography Award and Orwell Prize nominee; and Blood on the Page, winner of the 2018 Golden Dagger Award for Non-Fiction.

Also by Thomas Harding

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Praise for Legacy

This story of the family behind the Lyons Corner Houses and many other ventures, its rise and its business demise, is endlessly fascinating and hard to put down. I read it all in one sitting, enjoying the colour and grandeur, whilst spitting with fury at how women were kept out of the financial loop. Full of character and characters, this is a tour de force.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger

In this fascinating history of the dynasty that founded and developed J. Lyons & Company, Thomas Harding provides his readers with an illuminating insight into the lives of the founders and their descendants. This is an impressively researched account of one of Britain's most well known corporations, one which dominated the business scene from the 1920s through to the 1980s. Yet this book is much more than a family saga. Through the lens of the Salmons and Glucksteins, the author provides authoritative accounts of the changing social, economic and political landscape both in Britain and further afield. It is a book to be recommended to all those who are interested in family and business histories and to those who are keen to learn more about the changing face of Britain in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Anne Kershen

It's easy to forget now how the British catering empire Lyons and Company (of Corner House fame) dominated British taste and consumer habits for generations. It was the world's biggest food retailer for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and its genius lay in the ability of one family to anticipate what British consumers wanted before they knew themselves. Thomas Harding has excavated his own family history. It begins with his ancestor Lehmann Gluckstein arriving in the east end of London as a penniless refugee. It culminates in a business empire that dominated every high street in the country, catering to an emerging middle class that had, for the first time, money in its pocket and wanted to dine out affordably. This is the family that democratised consumer spending and defined British taste for generations. It is an astonishing story, beautifully and lovingly told, of powerful family patriarchs, of love stories and business feuds, of family tragedies and commercial triumphs, and of a rags-to-riches journey through risk, jeopardy and fortitude. It is a rich and telling portrait of the immigrant contribution to the character of Britain. And above all it is a compelling tale of family members, conscious of their foreign origins and outsider status, driven more than anything by their loyalty toward and love for each other.

Allan Little

I was riveted: this is a fascinating social history.

Nigella Lawson

A magnificent book. what a story this is. Endlessly fascinating.

Jenni Frazer, Jewish Chronicle

Five stars. History on a scale at once intimate and grand. extremely readable.

Francesca Wade, The Telegraph

Written with love and imagination. a masterclass in historical empathy.

Abigail Green, TLS

Ably combines his story with British political and social history... [an] affectionate and colourful family history.

Andrew Hill, Financial Times

This extraordinarily rich and meticulously researched history of modern Britain is a tour de force. It's a paean to the immigrant contribution to our nation.

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller, 'Editor's Choice'

'A satisfying slab of dynastic history... a brisk, accessible account of how one Anglo-Jewish dynasty provided twentieth-century Britain with the materials it required to imagine itself fondly as a land of cosy comfort.

Kathryn Hughes, Guardian, 'Book of the Day'

Have a cuppa and enjoy this rich tale of an old favourite... Fascinating. Harding is to be congratulated on this panoramic history of an institution that was as British as Victoria sponge.

Ian Thomson, Evening Standard

A monumental history of the rise and fall of the Lyons empire. It's a terrific story and Harding is surely right to describe the Glucksteins and Salmons as "pioneers, democratising luxury and globalising taste".

Lewis Jones, The Times

An affectionate family history, deftly sandwiched in the rise and fall of empires, two world wars, and two centuries of social and political change.


Legacy is the biography of the extraordinary family who put the respectable teashop on the corner, the hamburger on the high street, plus the cuppa and Ready Brek on your breakfast table... Thomas Harding is a researcher of the first rank. Nobody quite stirs the soup of historical detail like Harding.

John Lewis-Stempel, Daily Express

Enthralling... fascinating. Nearly half a century on, the Lyons name and Corner Houses have faded, quite forgotten. I dream of them still.

Anthony Quinn, Observer

A meticulously-researched rags-to-riches tale

Jewish News

The story of the J Lyons food empire, once ubiquitous, [.] and the families who founded and nurtured the business, colourfully told.

Financial Times

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