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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  • Robert Peel: Portraiture and political commemoration

    Article

    On 4 March 1856, during a debate in the House of Lords on a motion to form a ‘Gallery of National Portraits', the Conservative peer Earl Stanhope quoted Thomas Carlyle's view that ‘one of the most primary wants [of the historian is] to secure a bodily likeness of the personage...

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  • The Transport Revolution 1750-1830

    Article

    The period 1750-1830, traditionally marking the classical industrial revolution, achieved in Great Britain what Professor Rostow has called the economy's "take-off into self-sustained growth". A revolution in transportation was part of the complex of changes - industrial, agricultural, mercantile and commercial - occurring roughly concurrently.The impetus to transport change is...

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  • Neville Chamberlain: Villain or Hero?

    Article

    Perhaps no other British figure of the twentieth century has been as vilified or as celebrated as Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940. In 1999, a BBC Radio 4 poll of prominent historians, politicians and commentators rated Chamberlain as one of the worst Prime Ministers of...

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  • David Cannadine Interview about his book: The Right Kind of History

    Multipage Article

    Sir David Cannadine has done the unthinkable he has traced the teaching of history in state schools since the beginning. In his book The Right Kind of History: Teaching the Past in Twentieth-Century England he explores the real history of history education the truth is discovered to that age old...

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  • The Right Kind of History. An Interview with Nicola Sheldon, Jenny Keating and John Hamer

    Multipage Article

    Sir David Cannadine has written the book that tells the history of history in schools. On the podcast on this site he outlines some of his reasons for wanting to write the book and what his findings were. But alongside his name on the front cover are his research team...

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  • The Coming of War in 1939

    Article

    I. The Legacy of VersaillesThe Outbreak of a second world war on 1 September 1939 might have been expected to produce in due course a great controversy on ‘war guilt'. But there has been nothing comparable with the debate which took place during the 1920s on the 1914 issues. The angel...

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  • The Undergrowth of History

    Article

    We can do all kinds of things with the past - examine it analytically, or question whether it ever existed, or churn it up inside ourselves until it turns into personal experience. We can dream it as we lounge amidst a heap of ruins, or petrify it into a museum;...

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  • The Irish in Britain 1815-1914

    Article

    Irish migration to Britain has a long and chequered history, yet only in recent years have historians examined this subject in depth, through a growing body of local, regional and national studies which have supplemented the earlier pioneering research of J. E. Handley and J. A. Jackson. These studies have...

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  • The Mechanical Battle of Britain

    Article

    The Battle of Britain is often described as the point at which the Nazi threat began to diminish and cracks began to form in Hitler's regime. The air campaign launched by the Germans in the summer of 1940 intended to wipe out the existence of the British Royal Air Force...

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  • The Tale of Two Winstons

    Article

    Winston Churchill is generally regarded as one of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century. As Prime Minister he led Britain to victory against the Nazi war machine, leading Time to name him ‘Man of the Year' in 1940 and ‘Man of the Half Century' in 1949. As recently...

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  • An Intimate History of Your Home - Lucy Worsley

    Article

    ‘You've gone over to The Dark Side'. These were the words of a well-respected historian to whom I'd been enthusing about the pleasures and perils of Dressing Up. During 2009-10 I spent several months in historic costume, recreating the habits and rituals of domestic life in the past. It was...

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  • Oxford's Literary War: Oxford University's servicemen and the Great War

    Article

    The last two decades have seen a slow shift in the academic understanding of the impact of the Great War on interwar Britain. The work of a small group of cultural historians has challenged strongly held pre-existing interpretations of the cultural impact of the Great War. However, there is still...

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  • The Second World War

    Article

    On 5 September 1939 the German Führer, Adolf Hitler, paid a surprise visit to the corps which was in the forefront of his army's ferocious assault upon Poland. As they passed the remains of a smashed Polish artillery regiment, the corps commander, General Guderian, astonished Hitler by telling him that...

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  • The British Government's Confidential Files on the United States

    Article

    Unpublished papers in Britain's National Archives at Kew reveal curious undercurrents in Anglo-American relations. After the conclusion of the Boer War, for example, the British Army supposed that the next major conflict would be not with Germany but with the U.S. A memo printed for circulation in July 1904 entitled ‘A...

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  • Smithfield's Bartholomew Fair

    Article

    On the north-western side of the City of London, directly in front of St Bartholomew's Hospital near the ancient church of St Bartholomew the Great, there once lay a ‘smooth field', now known as Smithfield. This open space of around ten acres had a long and turbulent history. In medieval...

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  • The British General Strike 1926

    Article

    ‘The General Strike is a challenge to Parliament and is the road to anarchy and ruin.' (Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister, 6th May 1926).‘The General Council does not challenge the Constitution ... the sole aim of the Council is to secure for the miners a decent standard of life. The Council...

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  • Irish Unionism 1885-1922

    Article

    It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of Irish unionism for British and Irish politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The movement was supported almost exclusively by Irish Protestants who were of Anglo-Irish or Scotch-Irish descent and who comprised roughly one-quarter of the population of Ireland. Its...

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  • Pleasure Piers: a sign of Victorian exuberance

    Article

    October 2010 was a memorable month for England's historic pleasure piers. Early in the month, fire ravaged Hastings Pier, to the extent that there is some doubt as to whether it can be restored, but, by contrast, at the end of the month there was the delightful news that the...

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  • Imperialism resurgent: European attempts to 'recolonise' South East Asia after 1945

    Article

    ‘To think that the people of Indochina would be content to settle for less [from the French] than Indonesia has gained from the Dutch or India from the British is to underestimate the power of the forces that are sweeping Asia today'.An American adviser in 1949 cited: Robin Jeffrey ed.,...

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  • Arnold Wilkins: Pioneer of British Radar

    Article

    Whenever British radar is discussed the name that usually comes to mind is that of Robert Watson Watt. Our history books and our dictionaries of biography consistently attribute the discovery of radar in Britain solely to Watson Watt, with little or no mention of the key role played by his...

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