The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society

The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society

The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society

The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society

Synopsis

"Everyone who lived during the reign of Edward VII was an Edwardian, not merely the rich, the literary or the scandalous. In this classic work, Paul Thompson records the life stories of some five hundred Edwardians, born between 1872 and 1906, in a pioneering use of oral history, which captures a unique record of their times. Domestics, labourers, skilled and semi-skilled workers, professionals and high society men and women describe their work, their families, their politics and their leisure. The book establishes and describes the most important dimensions of social change in the early twentieth century: class structure, gender distinctions, age distinctions - urban and rural - and regional differences. It also evaluates the forces for social change in the period: economic pressures, religious and political conviction, feminism and socialism, patriotism and the war, to reveal how near and how far Edwardian society was to revolution in this time of critical social change. By giving a voice to the contribution and experience of ordinary people, Paul Thompson brings the Edwardian era vividly to life. This new edition is substantially revised and includes a new chapter, to take into account major historiographical and social changes since the book's publication in 1975. It has new photographs and an up-to-date bibliography." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This new edition of The Edwardians, in addition to new photographs and a new bibliography, has been completely revised throughout to take account of historical writing since 1975, and equally important, of how the world around us has changed. Because of these changes, the past looks different, and we ask different questions of it. This applies especially to the second half of the book where I examine the instruments of change and its long-term dimensions. Here I have added a wholly new chapter on ‘Identity and Power’ which includes discussions of the nature of masculinity and of patriotism, both new questions which social historians began to ask in the 1980s. I am also aware of a fundamental shift which, because of the intrinsic nature of the book, cannot be adequately reflected. The Edwardians lived as part of an Empire which, when I was writing two decades ago, had been lost without being replaced: it made sense to write in terms of an island Britain. In the longer view the social history of twentieth-century Britain will inevitably be rethought as part of the social history of Europe. But although I have inserted some hints in this direction, it is clearly another task: a task which British social historians have scarcely begun, and few Edwardians could have even imagined.

I owe a particular debt, in this second edition, to the encouragement and suggestions of Leonore Davidoff, the comments on the text of Natasha Burchardt, and for the rewriting in the summer of 1991, to the special hospitality of Bee and Alex Hill.

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