The German Invasion of Britain in 1872 and ‘What Became of the Invaders’

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


The general unease felt in Britain at German successes in the war with France manifested itself in the literary sphere in a number of ways. British authors, including George Eliot’s immediate circle, were among those most shocked by the events of 1870–1, with Eliot herself torn between those who favoured British intervention on the French side and those who believed ‘France had properly paid the price for Napoleon III’s arrogance’.1 Though Germany was by no means constructed absolutely as an enemy by British authors in this period, there was both consternation and ambivalent feeling in the literary world regarding the outcome of the Franco-Prussian War. The ageing Thomas Carlyle was perhaps unique in his unequivocal enthusiasm that

noble, patient, deep, pious and solid Germany should be at length welded into a nation, and become Queen of the Continent, instead of vapouring, vain-glorious, gesticulating, quarrelsome, restless, and over-sensitive France.2

Other authors of this period were not so sure, and an important interpretation of the general mood can be found in one of the first major works of fiction completed after the conclusion of the Franco-German conflict.


German Scholarship Ambivalent Feeling British Author Biblical Criticism French Side 
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.


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Copyright information

© Richard Scully 2012

Authors and Affiliations

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

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