In what has established itself as a classic study of Britain from the late eighteenth century to the mid-Victorian period, Eric J. Evans explains how the country became the world’s first industrial nation. His book also explains how, and why, Britain was able to lay the foundations for what became the world’s largest empire. Over the period covered by this book, Britain became the world’s most powerful nation and arguably its first super-power.
Economic opportunity and imperial expansion were accompanied by numerous domestic political crises which stopped short of revolution. The book ranges widely: across key political, diplomatic, social, cultural, economic and religious themes in order to convey the drama involved in a century of hectic, but generally constructive, change. Britain was still ruled by wealthy landowners in 1870 as it had been in 1783, yet the society over which they presided was unrecognisable. Victorian Britain had become an urban, industrial and commercial powerhouse.
This fourth edition, coming more than fifteen years after its predecessor, has been completely revised and updated in the light of recent research. It engages more extensively with key themes, including gender, national identities and Britain’s relationship with its burgeoning empire. Containing illustrations, maps, an expanded ‘Framework of Events’ and an extensive ‘Compendium of Information’ on topics such as population change, cabinet membership and significant legislation, the book is essential reading for all students of this crucial period in British history.
Table of Contents
List of Figures List of Maps Introduction to Fourth Edition Note on the Framework of events Publisher’s Acknowledgements PART ONE: RECONSTRUCTION AND THE CHALLENGE OF WAR Framework of Events 1. Britain in the early 1780s: I Society and economy 2. Britain in the early 1780s: II Politics and Government 3. ‘A nation restored’ I: Politics and finance under Pitt, 1784-1790 4. ‘A nation restored’ II: Foreign Policy and Trade, 1783-93 5. The new political economy and the early impact of laissez-faire 6. The new moral economy: Wilberforce, the Saints and New Dissent 7. The decline of the Whigs and the emergence of a new Conservatism, 1788-1812 8. Radicalism, repression and patriotism, 1789-1803 9. The wars with France I: Pitt’s War, Addington’s Peace, 1793-1803 10. The wars with France II:I Endurance and Triumph, 1803-1815 11. Ireland: the road to Union, 1782-1801 PART TWO: IMPERIAL AND INDUSTRIAL 12. Empire I: Trade, Influence and Expansion 13. Empire II: Rule, Resistance and Reaction 14. The onset of industrialism 15. Entrepreneurs and markets 16. The structure and organisation of the workforce in early industrial Britain 17. A living from the land : landowners, farmers and improvement 18. ‘Living and partly living’: labourers, poverty and protest 19. Standards of living and quality of life 20. Organisations of labour 21. Class consciousness? PART THREE: THE CRUCIBLE OF REFORM, 1815-1846 Framework of Events 22. Unprepared for peace: distress and the resurgence of reform, 1815-1820 23. An Age of ‘Liberalism’? 24. Influence without entanglement: foreign affairs, 1815-1846 25. The crisis of reform, 1827-1832 26. ‘The real interests of the aristocracy’: the Reform Act of 1832 27. The condition of England question I: the new Poor Law 28. The condition of England question II: factory reform, education and public health 29. ‘The Church in danger’: Anglicanism and its opponents 30. The age of Peel? Politics and policies, 1832–1846 31. The politics of pressure I: Chartism 32. The politics of pressure II: the Anti-Corn-Law League PART FOUR: INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY, REFINED AND TESTED, 1846-1870 Framework of Events 33. The zenith of the bourgeoisie 34. The professionalization of government 35. Urban Britain in the age of improvement 36. Religion and Society in mid-Victorian Britain 37. Leisure and Responsibility 38. Education and the consciousness of status 39. ‘An assembly of gentlemen’: Party politics, 1846-1859 40. Palmerston and the pax Britannica 41. The revival of reform 42. ‘The principle of numbers’: toward democracy, 1867-1870 43. Imperial issues and domestic spheres 44. Identities: a modern State forged? COMPENDIUM OF INFORMATION A British governments, 1783–1870 B Parliament and parliamentary reform C The growth of Government D The economy E Population F Foreign and colonial affairs G Religion Maps Bibliography Index
Eric J. Evans is Emeritus Professor of Modern History at Lancaster University. He is the author of a number of seminal works on the political and social history of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain.