Charlie Chaplin: A Political Biography from Victorian Britain to Modern America, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Charlie Chaplin

A Political Biography from Victorian Britain to Modern America, 1st Edition

By Richard Carr


286 pages

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Richard Carr’s Charlie Chaplin places politics at the centre of the filmmaker’s life as it looks beyond Chaplin’s role as a comedic figure to his constant political engagement both on and off the screen.

Drawing from a wealth of archival sources from across the globe, Carr provides an in-depth examination of Chaplin’s life as he made his way from Lambeth to Los Angeles. From his experiences in the workhouse to his controversial romantic relationships and his connections with some of the leading political figures of his day, this book sheds new light on Chaplin’s private life and introduces him as a key social commentator of the time.

Whether interested in Hollywood and Hitler or communism and celebrity, Charlie Chaplin is essential reading for all students of twentieth-century history.


'Richard Carr’s political biography of Charlie Chaplin draws on a wide variety of archival sources and provides an insightful, nuanced analysis of Chaplin’s evolving political views in the context of his times. His discussion of Chaplin’s interactions with British politicians and artists (and the British response to Chaplin) is especially illuminating, providing an important contribution to our understanding of the complex man and artist who created the Tramp.'

Professor Charles Maland, University of Tennessee

'Richard Carr has scoured archives on both sides of the Atlantic to bring us this vivid and nuanced portrait of the political Charlie Chaplin. Carr shows us Chaplin as his contemporaries saw him--as a highly vocal silent film star who was also an ambitious political thinker. Carr reveals the interplay of personal scandal, mud-slinging media, non-conformism and leftist politics that shaped the Chaplin myth, giving us perhaps the most complete picture to date of Chaplin the man and of the deep-seated humanitarian ideals that drove both his politics and his poetics.'

Dr Libby Murphy, Oberlin College and Conservatory

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables



Introduction: a very political life

1. Chaplin’s England

2. To Shoulder Arms? Charlie and the First World War

3. Moscow or Manchester? Chaplin’s views on capitalism before the depression took hold

4. Sex, Morality and a Tramp in 1920s America

5. Between Churchill and Gandhi: A Comedian Sees the World

6. Modern Times and the Great Depression

7. The Tramp and the Dictators

8. Comrades and Controversy

9. A Citizen of the World


Select Bibliography

Archival Collections


Published Sources

Other Cited Published Works

Doctoral Theses

About the Author

Richard Carr is a Senior Lecturer in History and Politics at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. His previous publications include Veteran MPs and Conservative Politics in the Aftermath of the Great War: The Memory of All That (2013). He has also co-authored the books Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon (2016) and The Global 1920s (2016).

About the Series

Routledge Historical Biographies

Routledge Historical Biographies are concise, accessible introductions to key historical figures. Written by experts in their fields they are designed to help students either starting out on a course, or revising before exams. Far from being dry, academic texts however, they are also perfect, affordable books for the history buff.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
HISTORY / North America
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century

Author Interview

Read a Q&A with author Richard Carr.