Britain & Ireland

What was it about industrialisation that led to the emergence of a woman’s movement in Victorian Britain? Why do we see so many people fighting for so many rights and liberties in this period and what are the origins of some of the issues we still campaign on today? This section includes our major series on Social and Political Change in the UK from 1800 to the present day. There are also articles and podcasts on the often violent relationship between England and Ireland during this period and England’s changing relationship with Scotland and Wales. Read more

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  • William Morris, Art and the Rise of the British Labour Movement

    Article

    Commenting in early 1934 at the University College, Hull, at the time of the centenary of William Morris’ birth and of a large exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the historian and active socialist, G.D.H. Cole commented, William Morris’ influence is very much alive today: but let us not...

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  • Cholera and the Fight for Public Health Reform in Mid-Victorian England

    Article

    Of the many social changes that occurred during the Victorian age, public health reform is widely agreed to be one of the most significant. In the early Victorian era the vast majority of Britons drank water from murky ponds and rivers, carried to their dwellings in buckets; and their excrement...

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  • Cooling Memories? Why We Still Remember Scott And Shackleton

    Article

    Just along from the grand lobby of the new British Library, on the left up a broad staircase, there is a half concealed doorway. Walk through the doors and you enter a low gallery, dimly lit and filled with expansive display cases. There is always a hush in this room...

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  • 'Wanted, The Elusive Charlie Peace': A Sheffield Killer Of The 1870s As Popular Hero

    Article

    On 28 November 1876, William and John Habron, Irish brothers habitually in trouble with the police, were tried at Manchester Assizes for the murder three months before of Police Constable Nicholas Cock (on the basis of ‘scientific’ footprint evidence at the scene of the crime). The jury found 19 year-old...

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  • 1939 After Sixty Years

    Article

    Historians view major anniversaries with a measure of ambivalence. We know that they are artificial, that it is merely a convenient fiction to think that the passage of a round number of years provides a privileged vantage point from which to review the significance of a given event. Yet we...

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  • What's New About New Labour?

    Article

    In the 1980s it was often argued that the Labour party was finished as a major force in British politics. Yet on 1st May 1997 it won a landslide victory, securing an overall majority of 179 in parliament. Two years into its term of office, it retains a strong lead...

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  • Louis, John, and William: the 'Dame Europa' pamphlets, 1870-1871

    Article

    The pamphlet printing industry in England received an unexpected boost in 1871 with the appearance of numerous works written, mainly, as commentaries, satires or allegories in Britain’s attitude regarding the Franco-Prussian War. The cause of this deluge was one particular tract, first issued on Salisbury in October 1870, whose purpose...

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  • Britain and the Formation of NATO

    Article

    Carl Watts outlines the shift in British security policy and examines the role played by the Foreign Office during the post-War period. April 1999 marks the 50th anniversary of the signature of the North Atlantic Treaty, which came into effect in August 1949. The Cold War is over, but NATO...

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  • The Press and the Public during the Boer War 1899-1902

    Article

    Dr Jacqueline Beaumont Hughes considers some aspects of the role of the Press during the Boer War. The conflict between Great Britain and the Republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State which slipped into war in October 1899 was to become the most significant since the Crimean war. It...

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  • The Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait 1898-1899: The birth of social anthropology?

    Article

    Dr John Shepherd reviews the history of a major anthropological expedition one hundred years ago. On 10 March 1898 The Times reported that Cambridge Anthropological Expedition led by Alfred Cort Haddon had sailed from London, bound for the Torres Strait region between Australia and New Guinea. In Imperial Britain, the...

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  • The Pilgrimage of Grace: Reactions, Responses and Revisions

    Article

    Dr Michael Bush investigates the interpretations of the pilgrimage of grace. Our perception of the pilgrimage of grace has been largely created by Madeleine and Ruth Dodds and their magnificent book The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536-7, and the Exeter Conspiracy, 1538 (Cambridge). Published in 1915, it has dominated the subject...

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  • The Rise and Fall of the Constitutional Press, 1858-1860

    Article

    Amy de Gruchy provides an account of a short-lived newspaper of the Conservative Right which published work by Charlotte Yonge. The Constitutional Press was born in March 1858 following the formation of the second minority Conservative government under Lord Derby. It was a weekly paper containing Parliamentary reports, British and...

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  • Women in the Tramway Industry 1914-1919

    Article

    Rosemary Thacker writes about one unusual area of expansion of war-time work for women in the Great War.

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  • Isaac Butt and Irish Nationality

    Article

    Alan O’Day reviews and reassesses the career of the major Irish Nationalist figure before Charles Stewart Parnell. Once the most respected man in Irish nationalist circles, Isaac Butt became merely a footnote in Anglo-Irish history after his death on 5 May 1879. Yet, from the mid-1860s until he died his...

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  • War Plan Red: the American Plan for war with Britain

    Article

    John Major discusses an astonishing aspect of past Anglo-American history. All great powers have developed contingency plans for war with each other, and the United States in the early twentieth century was no exception. Each of Washington’s schemes was given a distinctive colour. Green mapped out intervention in neighbouring Mexico,...

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  • Quixotically Generous...Economically Worthless'

    Article

    William Kenefick considers two views of the dockers and the dockland community in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 'Quixotically generous and economically worthless’! But what does this mean? How does this curious descriptor help us understand the docker or the waterside community? Indeed, does it tell us...

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  • From Disraeli to Callaghan: Britain 1879 - 1979

    Article

    A previously unpublished survey of British history by A.J.P. Taylor. It is a characteristic piece, though marked by gloom about the then recent inflation. Introduced by Historical Association President Chris Wrigley.

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  • Cartooning King Cotton

    Article

    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...

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  • Jane Austen: a writer for all seasons

    Article

    Irene Collins provides a fresh assessment of the life and work of one of this country’s greatest novelists, whose own wit and charm, combined with a deep insight into human nature, is reflected in her novels. Jane Austen was not the first woman novelist in England to achieve popularity and...

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  • The Handing Back of Hong Kong: 1945 and 1997

    Article

    Andrew Whitfield examines the recovery of Hong Kong from the Japanese, 52 years before its return to China. As the clock ticks ever closer to midnight on 30 June 1997, the sun will set on Britain’s last major colonial outpost. Thousands of miles from the motherland, the colony originally acted...

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