King Labour: The British Working Class, 1850-1914, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

King Labour

The British Working Class, 1850-1914, 1st Edition

By David Kynaston


180 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138352100
pub: 2020-05-15
SAVE ~$8.00
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 15th May 2020
Hardback: 9781138352056
pub: 2018-11-23
SAVE ~$23.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429434846
pub: 2018-12-07
from $20.00

FREE Standard Shipping!


First published in 1976. This book covers working-class history from the decline of Chartism to the formation of the Labour Party and its early development to 1914. It gives a historical perspective to the essentially defensive, materialist orientation of twentieth century working-class politics. David Kynaston has sought to synthesise the wealth of recent detailed research to produce a coherent overall view of the particular dynamic of these formative years. He sees the course of working-class history in the second half of the nineteenth century as a necessary tragedy and suggests that a major reason for this was the inability of William Morris as a revolutionary socialist to influence organised labour.

The treatment is thematic as much as chronological and special attention is given not only to the parliamentary rise of Labour, but also to deeper-lying intellectual, occupational, residential, religious, and cultural influences. The text itself includes a substantial amount of contemporary material in order to reflect the distinctive ‘feel’ of the period. The book is particularly designed for students studying the political, social and economic background to modern Britain as well as those specialising in nineteenth-century English history.


"An excellent text…A lively, sensible, mostly very readable, and occasionally quirky interpretation that can be warmly recommended…Intelligent and sophisticated." John Saville, Business History Review

"A treasury of quotable excerpts and fine vignettes…Some fine judgments and neatly pointed epigrams." Sidney Pollard, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History

"Full of interesting detail and most readable." John Lovell, Economic History Review

"A lively account, with a great deal of vivid description and quotation." Henry Pelling, Journal of Economic History

"He writes briskly, compresses skilfully, has a keen instinct for appropriate quotations, and moves with confidence over a number of different aspects of working-class life during the second half of the nineteenth century." Peter Keating, Times Literary Supplement

"A mine from which the reader can dig many nuggets of suggestive, sometimes startling information…Altogether a most serviceable enterprise." Martin Fagg, Times Educational Supplement

"Deeply committed but attractively sophisticated…Rich and relevant use of contemporary careers and ideas…Good writing and well-reasoned burrowing into empirical material." Economist

Table of Contents

Foreword; 1. Retrenchment: 1850-1868 2. Ideas 3. Transition: 1868-1880 4. Class 5. Religion 6. Culture 7. Socialism: 1880-1895 8. Labour: 1885-1900; Postscript: 1900-1914; Select Bibliography; Notes; Index

About the Author

David Kynaston was born in Aldershot in 1951. He has been a professional historian since 1973 and has written eighteen books, including The City of London (1994-2001), a widely acclaimed four-volume history, and W.G.'s Birthday Party, an account of the Gentleman vs. the Players at Lord's in July 1898. He is the author of Austerity Britain, 1945-51, the first title in a series of books covering the history of post-war Britain (1945-1979) under the collective title 'Tales of a New Jerusalem'. He is currently a visiting professor at Kingston University.

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: The Labour Movement

This set of 44 volumes, originally published between 1924 and 1995, amalgamates a wide breadth of research on the Labour Movement, including labour union history, the early stages and development of the Labour Party, and studies on the working classes. This collection of books from some of the leading scholars in the field provides a comprehensive overview of the subject, how it has evolved over time, and will be of particular interest to students of political history.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General