Wheal Coates tin mine in Cornwall
In the wildly popular British series “Poldark” seen on PBS, the fantasies of Georgian England and its historical realities are, surprisingly, not far apart. Aristocrat Ross Poldark returns after three years of fighting the American War of Independence to discover his Cornwall estate in ruins and debt, and his first love engaged to his cousin. He reopens his copper mines for income, moves to a modest farm, marries his kitchen servant, and works to help the indigent.
Poldark becomes the perfect representation of the place and time—a man who bridges the divide between the classes. Late-18th-century England saw the beginning of the new industrial age, and also changes in the social system represented by the aristocracy (Poldark), the emergent middle class (banker George Warleggan) and the working class (miners).
Julie Taddeo, a visiting professor in the department of history at University of Maryland, College Park, examines the topics the show encompasses: economics, religion, marriage, medicine, social customs, fashions, and the details of daily life in Cornwall and London. She explores what the series portrays accurately about the period and what its creators fictionalized as she draws us into the dashing world of “Poldark.” Tune in!