Power to the People? Proto-Social History

  • Helen Kingstone
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Chapter 6 continues the previous chapter’s analysis of long-overlooked Victorian contemporary histories by Harriet Martineau, J. R. Green, and Spencer Walpole. They were radical not only in narrating the controversial recent past, but also in aspiring to write social history. They all found this difficult to achieve in practice, and structured their narratives on a political chronology. Their radicalism comes into relief, however, in a comparison with Charlotte M. Yonge’s The Victorian Half Century: A Jubilee Book (1887), which is distorted by its royalist focus. The final section examines all four historians’ use of the unifying trope “the nation.” This atemporal concept sometimes encompasses everyone and sometimes only the middle classes. Ultimately, Victorian contemporary historians are shown as unable to represent the whole social spectrum.


French Revolution Royal Family Social Body Military History History Writing 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Kingstone
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Centre for Victorian StudiesLeeds Trinity UniversityLeedsUnited Kingdom

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