A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783-1846

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In 1783 England felt down and out, having just lost the bulk of its American colonies. By 1846 it was once more a great imperial nation, as well as the world's strongest power and dominant economy. In the meantime the country survived a decade of invasion fears, and emerged victorious from more than twenty years of 'war to the death' against Napoleonic France, while the Romantic movement brought English writers and artists to the forefront of European attention for the first time. But if Britain's external fortunes were in the ascendant, the situation at home remained fraught with peril, with the most prolonged period of social unrest since the seventeenth century. Population was growing at a rate not experienced by any comparable former society, and manufacturing towns were mushrooming into filthy, disease-ridden, gin-sodden hell-holes, in turn provoking the phantasmagoria of a mad, bad, and dangerous people. The governing class, in constant fear of a French-style revolution, was forced to engage with social problems to an unprecedented extent, one reason why, by the mid-nineteenth century, the seeds of a settled two-party system and of a more socially interventionist state were both in evidence. At the same time the country experienced a great religious revival, very loosely described under the heading 'evangelicalism'. Slowly but surely, the raffish and rakish style of eighteenth-century society, having reached a peak in the Regency, was succumbing to the new norms of respectability popularly known as 'Victorianism'.

About the Author:
Boyd Hilton is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Faced with an impossible task, Hilton's A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?--immensely erudite, capacious yet with a distinctive voice, and written with considerable panache--is as outstanding contribution to a series whose approach to history...."--he New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199218912
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2008
  • Series: New Oxford History of England Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 784
  • Sales rank: 827,529
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Boyd Hilton is Reader in Modern British History the University of Cambridge and has been a Fellow of Trinity College since 1974. He has served as Senior Tutor, Dean, and Steward of the College.

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Table of Contents

1. England 1783-1846: An Overview
2. Politics in the Time of Pitt and Fox 1783-1807
3. Pitt and Plutocracy: The Social and Psychological Foundations
4. Politics in the Time of Liverpool and Canning 1807-1827
5. Ruling Ideologies
6. The Crisis of the Old Order 1827-1832
7. Contesting Mechanical Philosophy
8. Politics in the Time of Melbourne and Peel 1833-1846
9. The Condition and Reconditioning of England
10. Afterwards: 'There are no barbarians any longer.'

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