We begin our thirty-week journey with a look backward to the Eighteenth Century.
The most important person for England in the 18th century was the first monarch of that century: Queen Anne. She is neglected in history books, but she should not be. Her decisions about every single major direction of England set the tone for the century and insured a Protestant succession when she died.
Among our recommended books is a spectacular biography of Queen Anne by Anne Somerset. She tells the truth about the great Queen who is usually portrayed as a fat idiot. Not true. In her brief reign she fought off the radicals and the rebels and held Protestant England to the right path.
Our reading for the year is centered on one great novel each quarter:
Jane Austen in Fall Quarter. Charles Dickens in Winter Quarter, Rudyard Kipling in Spring Quarter.
Pride and Prejudice,
Penguin Books; Penguin Classics edition (December 31, 2002),
Penguin Classics; Revised edition (December 31, 2002),
Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 29, 2011),
This wonderful book by Christopher Hibbert will be useful to us all year. Hibbert is one of greatest "popular" historians, meaning that he writes books you want to read. Many of you have used his great one-volume history of the Medici as well as his excellent History of Rome, History of Florence, and History of Venice.Many of us used his excellent biography of Mussolini last year in the Modern Italy class. In this book, Hibbert takes us all through Victorian society. We have not made it "required" but we are sure you will enjoy it if you buy it and read it. Roy Porter gives you the best general review of 18th century English society ever written.
Life in Victorian England,
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 31, 2016),
English Society in the Eighteenth Century,
This book by Roy Porter is the best single volume you could read for a general view of eighteenth-century England. It is a pleasure and it is full of information about society, families, aristocracy, politics, newspapers, tea, everything. It is also available as an Audible audio book
Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion,
Knopf, Oct. 2013,
“Those who are compulsive watchers of The Game of Thrones or The Tudors would in fact be better off reading Anne Somerset’s masterful and fast-paced biography. This is all Game of Thrones material, sex, jealousy, and politics, but fascinating as it is, Ms. Somerset is a serious biographer and a very readable historian…Somerset tells brilliantly the story of this tangled reign, in which England and Scotland were finally combined to create “Great Britain,” and in which English conquests and victories on land an on sea made it a worldwide empire. She brings Anne to life as a shrewd and an instinctive politician. Her book is history at its best, authoritative without being overbearing or over-detailed, constantly illuminated by a canny eye for the revealing detail or anecdote, and above all readable. Those who write history are constantly being criticized for being either too ‘popular’ or too ‘academic,’ but Anne Somerset manages to strike the perfect balance between the two, her book being at once entertaining and yet solidly based on meticulous scholarship. It is a grand achievement…If ever a work of history managed to be ‘definitive’ and yet great fun to read, this is it.”
—Michael Korda, The Daily Beast