Introduction — ‘The Beginnings’

  • Richard Scully
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


It need hardly be said that Britain’s relationship with Germany and the Germans has been of immense importance historically. In the twentieth century, the contest for power between the two countries helped to push the world to war in 1914; triggered a second more terrible conflict in 1939; led to Britain’s imperial retreat and drove it by necessity into a ‘special relationship’ with the United States after 1941. The origins of this troubled relationship — the 1860–1914 period, which is the focus of this book — is perhaps one of the best-known, but least understood, phases in Britain’s association with Germany, being most meticulously explored in Paul Kennedy’s Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism (1980): still the dominant master-narrative despite three decades of subsequent scholarship. Charting the process by which Britain and Germany became diplomatically and militarily estranged, Kennedy took as his basic purpose to explain why ‘the British and German peoples … went to war against each other’, when they possessed no longstanding tradition of antipathy and indeed had been remarkably close for much of the preceding century.2 The general and ongoing fascination with this apparent paradox has also led popular historians to explore it, and in a sense, every history of the origins of the First and Second World Wars — which constitute entire genres in their own right — can be said to constitute a work on Anglo-German relations.3


Cultural History Apparent Paradox Longstanding Tradition Preceding Century German People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    R. Kipling, ‘The Beginnings (from Mary Postgate – A Diversity of Creatures)’, in The Complete Verse, London: Kyle Cathie, 1990, pp. 553–4.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. Kennedy, The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860–1914, London: Allen & Unwin, 1980, p. 464.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    R. K. Massie, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War, London: Pimlico, 2002; R. K. Massie, Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, London: Jonathan Cape, 2004; P. Padfield, The Great Naval Race: The Anglo-German Naval Rivalry, 1900–1914, London: Hart-Davis, 1974; R. Milton, The Best of Enemies: Britain and Germany – 100 Years of Truth and Lies, London: Icon, 2007.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    S. Lee, Victory in Europe? Britain and Germany since 1945, Harlow: Longman, 2001;Google Scholar
  5. S. Lee, An Uneasy Partnership: Anglo-German Relations between 1955 and 1961, Bochum: Brockmeyer Universitätsverlag, 1996.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    A. Wright, Literature of Crisis: 1910–1922, London: Macmillan Press, 1984;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. P. E. Firchow, The Death of the German Cousin: Variations on a Literary Stereotype, 1890–1920, London: Associated University Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    On the political impacts: M. Brechtken, ‘Personality, Image and Perception: Patterns and Problems of Anglo-German Relations in the 19th and 20th Centuries’, in A. M. Birke, M. Brechtken and A. Searle (eds), An Anglo-German Dialogue: The Munich Lectures on the History of International Relations, München: K. G. Sauer, 2000, p. 18. On anti-German feeling in Whitehall:Google Scholar
  9. E. T. Corp, ‘The Transformation of the Foreign Office, 1900–1907’, unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Kent, 1976;Google Scholar
  10. K. G. Robbins, ‘The Foreign Secretary, the Cabinet, Parliament and the Parties’, in F. H. Hinsley (ed.), British Foreign Policy under Sir Edward Grey, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977, p. 19.Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    J. Cleese and C. Booth, ‘The Germans’, in The Complete Fawlty Towers, London: Mandarin, 1988, p. 153. Also: J. Ramsden, Don’t Mention the War, London: Abacus, 2007, pp. 362, 385, 387–8).Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    J. Mander, Our German Cousins, London: John Murray, 1974, p. 2.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    T. Kielinger, Crossroads and Roundabouts – Junctions in German-British Relations, D. Ward (trans.), Bonn: Bouvier Verlag, 1996, p. viii; Ramsden, Don’t Mention the War, pp. ix–x and Chapters 6–10. Emerging at the same time was: Günter Hollenberg, Englisches Interesse am Kaiserreich: Die Attraktivität Preussen-Deutschlands für Konservative und Liberale Kreise in Großbritannian, 1860–1914, Wiesbaden, 1974.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    D. Lawson, ‘Saying the Unsayable About the Germans’, The Spectator, 14 July, 1990, pp. 8–10.Google Scholar
  15. Also L. Moyle, ‘The Ridley-Chequers Affair and the German Character’, in C. Cullingford and H. Husemann (eds), Anglo-German Attitudes, Aldershot: Avebury, 1995, pp. 165–80.Google Scholar
  16. Also A. M. Birke, ‘Britain and German Unity’, in Deutschland und Großbritannien: Historische Beziehungen und Vergleiche/Britain and Germany: Historical Relations and Comparisons, F. Bosbach and H. Hiery (eds), München: K. G. Sauer, 1999, pp. 279–91;Google Scholar
  17. M. Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany, 1800–2000, Blackwell: Malden, 2006, p. 393.Google Scholar
  18. 13.
    R. Cooper, ‘The Myth of Prussia’, in C. Buffet and B. Heuser (eds), Haunted by History – Myths in International Relations, Providence: Berghahn Books, 1998, pp. 224, 226–7; C. Clark, Iron Kingdom: the Rise and Downfall of Prussia, London: Allen Lane, 2006, pp. 670–88.Google Scholar
  19. 14.
    Kielinger, Crossroads and Roundabouts. On persistent stereotypes: J. Theobald, ‘Manufacturing Europhobia out of Germanophobia. Case studies in populist propaganda’, in R. Tenberg (ed.), Intercultural Perspectives: Images of Germany in Education and the Media, Munich, Iudicium, 1999, pp. 30–50.Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    D. Geppert and R. Gerwarth, Conference Report: ‘Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain – Cultural Contacts and Transfers, Conference of the GHIL held at University College, Oxford, 23–24 March 2006’, in Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, November 2006, p. 115; Dominik Geppert and Robert Gerwarth (eds), Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain: Essays on Cultural Affinity, Oxford and London: German Historical Institute and Oxford University Press, 2008.Google Scholar
  21. 19.
    Thomas Weber, Our Friend ‘The Enemy’: Elite Education in Britain and Germany before World War I, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008; German History, Volume 26, Number 4, October 2008; Central European History, Volume 41, Number 4, December 2008;Google Scholar
  22. Frank Bösch, Öffentliche Geheimnisse: Skandale, Politik und Medien in Deutschland und Großbritannien 1880–1914. München: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2009;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Martin Schramm, Das Deutschlandbild in der britischen Presse 1912–1919, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2007;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gisela Argyle, Germany as Model and Monster: Allusions in English Fiction, 1830s–1930s, Toronto: McGill-Queens, 2002.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    Older scholarship: O. J. Hale, Publicity and Diplomacy: With Special Reference to England and Germany, 1880–1914, Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1964;Google Scholar
  26. R. J. Sontag, Germany and England: Background of Conflict, 1848–1894, New York: Russell & Russell, 1964;Google Scholar
  27. E. L. Woodward, Great Britain and the German Navy, London: Cassell & Co., 1964.Google Scholar
  28. Also see J. Joll, The Origins of the First World War, London: Longman, 1984;Google Scholar
  29. R. J. W. Evans and H. Pogge von Strandmann (eds), The Coming of the First World War, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  30. 23.
    N. Ferguson, The Pity of War, London: Penguin, 1998, pp. 1–30;Google Scholar
  31. H. Strachan, The First World War – Volume I: To Arms, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 161–2; Z. Steiner and K. Neilson, Britain and the Origins of the First World War, Second Edition, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 260; Ramsden, Don’t Mention the War, pp. 95–103.Google Scholar
  32. 25.
    Mander, Our German Cousins, p. 15; Geppert and Gerwarth, ‘Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain’, p. 115; A. N. Wilson, The Victorians, London: Hutchinson, 2002, p. 350; Ramsden, Don’t Mention the War, pp. 1, 99; R. Hattersley, The Edwardians, London: Abacus, 2006, pp. 465–6.Google Scholar
  33. 26.
    J. Ramsden, ‘An Amiable, Unselfish, Kindly People: Jerome K. Jerome and the Germans’, unpublished text of article for German History, p. 1; Ramsden, Don’t Mention the War, p. 65. Also Hattersley, The Edwardians, p. 3; I. F. Clarke (ed.), The Great War with Germany, 1890–1914: Fictions and Fantasies of the War to Come, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997, p. 10; D. Cruickshank, Invasion: Defending Britain from Attack, London: Boxtree, 2001, pp. 133–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 27.
    K. Robbins, Great Britain: Identities, Institutions and the Idea of Britishness, London: Longman, 1998, p. 224; Steiner and Neilson, Britain and the Origins of the First World War, p. 271.Google Scholar
  35. 29.
    Other transnational studies of ‘entanglement’ between Britons and Germans include: Panikos Panayi, German Immigrants in Britain during the Nineteenth Century, 1815–1914, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995; Christine Lattek, Revolutionary Refugees: German Socialism in Britain, 1840–1860, Abingdon: Routledge, 2006; Wolfhard Weber, ‘Technologietransfer zwischen Großbritannien und Deutschland in der industriellen Revolution’, in Wolfgang J. Mommsen (ed.), Die ungleichen Partner: Deutsch-britische Beziehungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Stuttgart: DVA, 1999, pp. 65–81; Thomas Weber, ‘Cosmopolitan Nationalists: German Students in Britain—British Students in Germany’, in Geppert and Gerwarth (eds), Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain, pp. 249–70; Frank Bosch and Dominik Geppert (eds), Journalists as Political Actors: Transfers and Interactions between Britain and Germany since the Late 19th Century, Augsburg: Wissner-Verlag, 2008.Google Scholar
  36. 30.
    L. Gardiner, Bartholomew – 150 Years, Edinburgh: J. Bartholomew & Co., 1976, p. 60.Google Scholar
  37. 31.
    ‘Zones of contact’ from David Blackbourn, ‘Taking the Waters: Meeting Places of the Fashionable World’, in Martin Geyer and Johannes Paulmann (eds), Mechanics of Internationalism: Culture, Society, and Politics from the 1840s to the First World War, Oxford, 2001, 435–57; Blackbourn, ‘“As dependent on each other as man and wife”’, p. 26.Google Scholar
  38. 32.
    A small sample of such literary studies, or histories employing literature as evidence, is as follows: Rosemary Ashton, The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought, 1800–1860, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980; Rosemary Ashton, ‘England and Germany’, in D. Wu (ed.), A Companion to Romanticism, Oxford: Blackwells, 1998, pp. 495–504; Kennedy, The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, pp. 376–7; Ferguson, Pity of War, p. 1 and following; Ramsden, Don’t Mention the War, pp. 56–8, 71–9. Also D. McCormick, Who’s Who in Spy Fiction, London: Elm Tree, 1977, p. 47; L. Panek LeRoy, The Special Branch: The British Spy Novel, 1890–1980, Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1981, pp. 15, 36; J. Atkins, The British Spy Novel: Styles in Treachery, London: John Chandler, 1984, pp. 24–5 and following; A. J. A Morris, The Scaremongers – The Advocacy of War and Rearmament: 1896–1914, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984, pp. 108–61, 386; C. Andrew, Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community, London: Heinemann, 1985, pp. 20, 37–85; P. Panayi, The Enemy in Our Midst: Germans in Britain during the First World War, New York: Berg, 1991, pp. 30–9; Marc Schalenberg, ‘“Only Connect”: Personal and Cultural Entanglements in E. M. Forster’s Howards End’, in Geppert and Gerwarth (eds), Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain, pp. 254–368.Google Scholar
  39. 33.
    M. Drabble (ed.), The Oxford Companion to English Literature, New Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 962–3; I. F. Clarke, Voices Prophesying War: 1763–1984, London: Oxford University Press, 1966, pp. 138, 143; I. F. Clarke (ed.), The Tale of the Next Great War: 1871–1914, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995; Clarke (ed.), The Great War with Germany.Google Scholar
  40. 35.
    Morris, The Scaremongers, pp. 6–8, 146–62; K. Rohe, ‘British Imperialist Intelligentsia and the Kaiserreich’, in P. Kennedy and A. Nicholls (eds), Nationalist and Racialist Movements in Britain and Germany Before 1914, London: Macmillan, 1981, pp. 134–41; A. Summers, ‘Edwardian Militarism’, in R. Samuel (ed.), Patriotism: The Making and Unmaking of British National Identity, Vol. I, London: Routledge, 1989, p. 246.Google Scholar
  41. 37.
    P. Bridgewater, Anglo-German Interactions in the Literature of the 1890s, Oxford: Legenda, 1999; Firchow, Death of the German Cousin, pp. 41–2; Argyle, Germany as Model and Monster, p. 163 (note 22).Google Scholar
  42. 39.
    F. Morris, Artist of Wonderland: The Life, Political Cartoons, and Illustrations of Tenniel, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005, p. 103; Reinermann, Der Kaiser in England, pp. 37–440; Schramm, Das Deustchlandbild, pp. 73–86.Google Scholar
  43. 40.
    Childers, Riddle of the Sands, 1999, pp. 80, 239, 47. Childers, Riddle of the Sands, 1910, Plate 1. On ‘thick geography’, see T. Richards, The Imperial Archive: Knowledge and the Fantasy of Empire, London: Verso, 1993, pp. 124, 128.Google Scholar
  44. 43.
    The phrase ‘flood-tide’ from P. M. Kennedy, ‘“Idealists and Realists”: British Views of Germany, 1864–1939’, in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, Vol. 25, 1975, pp. 146.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Sonja Levsen, ‘Constructing Elite Identities: University Students, Military Masculinity, and the Consequences of the Great War in Britain and Germany’, Past and Present, 198, 2008, p. 182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 48.
    ‘Psychological preparation’ from Steiner and Neilson, Britain and the Origins of the First World War, p. 260. E. Wingfield-Stratford, Before the Lamps Went Out, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1945, p. 239.Google Scholar
  47. 49.
    For example R. Kipling, Letter to J. St Loe Strachey, 6 October 1902, in The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol. 3, Thomas Pinney (ed.), Houndmills: Macmillan, 1996, p. 109.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Scully 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Scully
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New EnglandAustralia

Personalised recommendations