Nineteenth-Century Britain: Integration and Diversity

Nineteenth-Century Britain: Integration and Diversity

Nineteenth-Century Britain: Integration and Diversity

Nineteenth-Century Britain: Integration and Diversity


While 19th-century Britain was committed to achieving national integration, it also hoped to maintain regional diversity. Keith Robbins looks at various aspects of life which served to unite or divide the nation, including religion, patterns of eating and drinking, the political system, commercial development, education, language, literature, and music. He concludes that the 'British' nation, though not uniform in character, became sufficiently consolidated throughout the 19th century to withstand the divisive crises of the early 20th century, particularly World War I. A stimulating account of the making of the modern British nation, this study of integration and diversity is of continuing relevance today.


As a sixth-former, I listened to a broadcast of Mr A. J. P. Taylor's Ford Lectures. the experience confirmed my desire to read history at Oxford. I was fortunate enough to have Mr Taylor as a tutor. It never occurred to me then that thirty years later I might myself deliver the Ford Lectures. I am most grateful to the electors for their invitation.

My theme, made even more topical by events since the lectures were written, was not difficult to choose. 'Born and bred a west- countryman, thank God,' to quote the young Tom Brown, I have been privileged to teach at universities in Yorkshire, Wales, and Scotland. a historian of modern Britain, with such a background, has accumulated debts which extend beyond the world of professional scholarship acknowledged in the textual notes, but they are no less real.

The content of some of the lectures has been rearranged. There has also been a modest inclusion of material which could not be squeezed into an hour. These small changes apart, the lectures are published in the form in which they were delivered.

Professor Sir Michael Howard courteously concerned himself with my welfare, and Dr A. D. Macintyre, acting President of Magdalen College, kindly arranged accommodation in my old college. the hospitality also extended by other friends and colleagues made my weekly experience of the integration and diversity of Britain most enjoyable.

K.G.R. University of Glasgow . . .

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