In the early nineteenth century, a new popular missionary movement swept England which aimed at national and global cultural transformation. The Civilising Mission and the English Middle Class traces the development of this movement, from its beginnings in the evangelical enthusiasm of the 1790s, to the 1840s and early 1850s, when it occupied a central place in a broader national culture. During this period, Alison Twells argues, global missionary concerns came to infuse domestic life, religious cultures, social networks and political campaigns. The book explores the role of missionary philanthropy in the development of new provincial middle-class and civic cultures, the extensive participation of women and children in the movement, and changing ideas about class, race and cultural difference. Focusing on missionary practice in England, Ireland, West Africa and the South Pacific, the study also considers the various ways in which the project was undercut: by resistance to the Christian message; differences of class and authority within the movement; challenges from a new breed of domestic reformer in the 1830s and 1840s; and the anxiety that the advance of civilisation was no certainty at home. Based on extensive new research, this study explores the intimate links between the overseas civilising mission and social movements in England in an era of colonialism and globalisation.
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About the Author
Alison Twells is a Lecturer in Social and Cultural History at Sheffield Hallam University, UK.