Foreign Agents, Invaders, Government Responses, and Novels: The Battle of Dorking to The Great Secret

  • Danny Laurie-Fletcher


This chapter discusses the relations between pre-World War I British invasion/spy literature and British politics and military ideas and the consequent effects. The key feature in these elements lay in the use of recurrence. This was not just limited to novels but included newspapers, especially tabloids, as they used certain recurring themes found in invasion/spy literature. Thus unsubstantiated, even absurd, rumours were reported as news, especially if they reinforced already held popular prejudices. Certainly, the way in which The Daily Mail used recurring themes reported as news was often akin to a sensational novel aimed at entertaining the public to sell copies. In 1913 F. W. Hirst, the editor of the classical liberal Economist, realised this to be the case, seeing that popular newspapers (in part due to commercial pressures) used a repetitive style to produce sensational reports at the quickest possible speed to grab readers’ attention and reinforce their prejudices.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danny Laurie-Fletcher
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Humanities, Arts and Social SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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