Cartooning King Cotton


By Alan Fowler, Terry Wyke, published 31st August 1997

While cartoons have been widely used by historians of ‘High Politics’ or diplomacy, they have been used less often by social historians. Alan Fowler and Terry Wyke examine a source for the social history of the Lancashire cotton industry. Cartoons have long held a fascination for historians, though when using them those critical attitudes that are directed at other forms of historical evidence appear to be less evident. Cartoons are used literally as illustrations rather than in an analytical manner. Moreover, those cartoons chosen to illustrate contemporary events or attitudes have been selected from a small number of chiefly metropolitan middle-class journals and newspapers, Punch being a favourite and much overused source for visual representations of ‘Victorian’ society.

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