Week 21

Week 21: Tuesday, March 30, 2021
The Victorian Circle: Family and Friends

In the 40 years that would elapse between the death of Prince Albert and the death of Victoria, the Queen built a whole new circle of friends, family, and advisers to take his place. Ministers came and went; children grew up and married and moved away, new friends came and went. But some very old friends endured.  In the 40 years, a new independent woman was born and this woman created a new role for the monarch of England. Take note of the great biographies that are available for Peel and Palmerston.

RECOMMENDED READING

David Cannadine,

Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906,

Viking (February 20, 2018),

ISBN 052555789X

This new history of the whole of Britain in the 19th century is a political history. It is pure politics and therefore Cannadine can devote great detail to each period. So during the quarter, if you want more information on the prime ministers and the parties it is this book that now furnishes all that information. It is a great work of history but it is too dry to sit down and read all the way through. But it is a perfect reference book for all of us on any political question.

Christopher Hibbert,

Life in Victorian England,

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 31, 2016),

ISBN 1541383559

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.

Gillian Gill,

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals,

Ballantine Books (November 30, 2009),

ISBN 0345520017

James Chambers,

Palmerston: The People’s Darling,

Thistle Publishing (April 10, 2013),

ISBN 1909609056

Douglas Hurd,

Robert Peel,

Phoenix (June 12, 2008),

ISBN 0753823845

22

Week 22: Tuesday, April 6, 2021
1870: A European War Again

Europe exploded in 1870. A war broke out between France and Prussia. Great Britain tried to maintain neutrality but no one in the royal family was truly neutral. Victoria's children were spread all over Europe and her daughter and namesake, Victoria, was the Crown Princess of Prussia, the aggressor in the war. The ruler of France, Louis Napoleon, was an old friend of Britain and profoundly Anglophile. Many British openly sided with France. Even the Crown Princess of Prussia was accused of rooting for France. But in September, the whole French state collapsed into military defeat and political convulsion. Louis Napoleon was ovethrown in Paris. A new Republic was proclaimed, and the Bonaparte ruler went off to English exile as the guest of Queen Victoria for the rest of his life. Victoria treated Louis Napoleon and his wife with the greatest generosity and kindness. She had deep sympathy for a European monarch who was so suddenly thrown out by the people who had recently celebrated his leadership. In the painting above, you see the leader of the Prussian state announce the formation of the new expanded German state. He announces this good news at Versailles, just to irritate all the French people watching. The new German state is nwo expanded thanks to new formerly French territory. Louis Napoleon, the former ruler of the French state was now sitting in a German castle-prison.

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Howard,

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France 1870-1871,

Routledge; 2nd ed. (Nov. 9, 2001),

ISBN 0415266718

'No outline can suggest the richness of detail and significance, or the superb command of language with which he invests his chronicle. His book is a masterpiece.' - Sunday Times

'Brilliantly written.' - Julian Critchley, The Week

David Cannadine,

Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906,

Viking (February 20, 2018),

ISBN 052555789X

This new history of the whole of Britain in the 19th century is a political history. It is pure politics and therefore Cannadine can devote great detail to each period. So during the quarter, if you want more information on the prime ministers and the parties it is this book that now furnishes all that information. It is a great work of history but it is too dry to sit down and read all the way through. But it is a perfect reference book for all of us on any political question.

23

Week 23: Tuesday, April 13, 2021
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

 

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. A later, medievalising strain inspired by Rossetti included Edward Burne-Jonesand extended into the twentieth century with artists such as John William Waterhouse. The group's intention was to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphaeland Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name "Pre-Raphaelite". In particular, the group objected to the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts, whom they called "Sir Sloshua". To the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, "sloshy" meant "anything lax or scamped in the process of painting ... and hence ... any thing or person of a commonplace or conventional kind". The brotherhood sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art. The group associated their work with John Ruskin, an English critic whose influences were driven by his religious background.
The group continued to accept the concepts of history painting and mimesis, imitation of nature, as central to the purpose of art. The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas. The group's debates were recorded in the Pre-Raphaelite Journal. (Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING

Alicia Craig Faxon,

Dante Gabriel Rosetti,

Abbeville Press; Reissue edition (October 1, 1989),

ISBN 0896599280

The paperback edition is available also, at much less cost.

24

Week 24: Tuesday, April 20, 2021
William Morris (1834-1896)

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain.

Born in Walthamstow, Essex, to a wealthy middle-class family, Morris came under the strong influence of medievalism while studying Classics at Oxford University, there joining the Birmingham Set. After university, he trained as an architect, married Jane Burden, and developed close friendships with the Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and with the Neo-Gothic architect Philip Webb. Webb and Morris designed a family home, Red House, then in Kent, where the latter lived from 1859 to 1865, before moving to Bloomsbury, central London. In 1861, Morris founded a decorative arts firm with Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Webb, and others: the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Becoming highly fashionable and much in demand, the firm profoundly influenced interior decoration throughout the Victorian period, with Morris designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and stained glass windows. In 1875, Morris assumed total control of the company, which was renamed Morris & Co.

Although retaining a main home in London, from 1871 Morris rented the rural retreat of Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire. Greatly influenced by visits to Iceland, with Eiríkr Magnússon he produced a series of English-language translations of Icelandic Sagas. He also achieved success with the publication of his epic poems and novels, namely The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870), A Dream of John Ball (1888), the Utopian News from Nowhere (1890), and the fantasy romance The Well at the World's End (1896). In 1877 he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to campaign against the damage caused by architectural restoration. Embracing Marxism and influenced by anarchism, in the 1880s Morris became a committed revolutionary socialist activist; after an involvement in the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), he founded the Socialist League in 1884, but broke with that organization in 1890. In 1891 he founded the Kelmscott Press to publish limited-edition, illuminated-style print books, a cause to which he devoted his final years.

Morris is recognised as one of the most significant cultural figures of Victorian Britain; though best known in his lifetime as a poet, he posthumously became better known for his designs. Founded in 1955, the William Morris Society is devoted to his legacy, while multiple biographies and studies of his work have seen publication. Many of the buildings associated with his life are open to visitors, much of his work can be found in art galleries and museums, and his designs are still in production.
(from Wikipedia)

 

25

Week 25: Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Disraeli and Gladstone

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
Benjamin Disraeli
Benjamin Disraeli

"Gladstone never envisaged a social order in which the landed aristocracy would not be the governing class, but he believed profoundly in the need for that class to be imbued with the earnestness, the moral purity, the readiness for hard work which, in his eyes, characterized the best elements of the non-conformist middle class." —Robert Blake

"Disraeli began as an outsider, a forerunner of Wilde, Proust, Waugh, fascinated by the aristocracy, half in love with it, half mocking it, an amusing young artist, the inventor of the political novel, a brilliant talker and diner-out, thought of as something of a bounder by men, and found attractive by women…. He was a romantic, a believer in dark, irrational forces and men of genius. Art, love, passion, the mystical elements of religion, meant more to him than railways or the transforming discoveries of the natural sciences, or the industrial might of England, or social improvement, or any truth obtained by measurement, statistics, deduction…. His entire life was a sustained attempt to live a fiction, and to cast its spell over the minds of others." —Isaiah Berlin Prof. Bruce Thompson on Gladstone and Disraili:

MIGHTY OPPOSITES

"The two great Prime Ministers of the nineteenth century in Britain, Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone, could not have been more different from each other. Gladstone, the Liberal, had a powerful religious conscience; Disraeli, the Tory, born Jewish but baptized, had no religious feelings at all. Disraeli wrote romantic novels about the need for building bridges between the classes; Gladstone, an Oxford-trained classicist, occupied himself with a three-volume work in which he tried to prove that Homer had anticipated the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Disraeli dressed and spoke like a dandy, had numerous love affairs, and piled up debts; Gladstone had a well-deserved reputation for financial probity and rigorous morality. In politics, Disraeli was an opportunist, Gladstone a man of conviction. Disraeli began his career by splitting the Conservative Party over the issue of the Corn Laws, bringing down Sir Robert Peel. Gladstone ended his career by splitting the Liberal Party over the issue of Home Rule for Ireland. Both sent their parties into the political wilderness for the better part of two decades, but Disraeli did so to enhance his own power, while Gladstone did so as a matter of conscience. Disraeli, says his biographer Robert Blake, "alternated between Queen Victoria's view that Gladstone was insane and the more common Tory theory that he was a monstrous hypocrite." He damned Gladstone as a "sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated with the exuberance of his own verbosity." Another contemporary: "I don't object to Gladstone always having the ace of trumps up his sleeve, but merely to his belief that the Almighty put it there." Disraeli, on the other hand, was a great actor on the public stage, watching his own performance and that of others with ironic detachment. His only genuine emotion in politics, the great historian A.J.P. Taylor has suggested (unfairly?), sprang from personal dislike—of Peel in his early career, and of Gladstone, more strongly, towards the end."

RECOMMENDED READING

David Cannadine,

Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906,

Viking (February 20, 2018),

ISBN 052555789X

This new history of the whole of Britain in the 19th century is a political history. It is pure politics and therefore Cannadine can devote great detail to each period. So during the quarter, if you want more information on the prime ministers and the parties it is this book that now furnishes all that information. It is a great work of history but it is too dry to sit down and read all the way through. But it is a perfect reference book for all of us on any political question.

James S., Jr. Donnelly,

The Great Irish Potato Famine,

The History Press (September 1, 2008),

ISBN 0750929286

26

Week 26: Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888). His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature, and one critic described his work as exhibiting "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".

Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Henry James said: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known." In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize and its youngest recipient to date.[6] He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined.

Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. George Orwell saw Kipling as "a jingo imperialist", explaining that he was "morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting". Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: "[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with." (Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Rudyard Kipling,

Kim,

Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 29, 2011),

ISBN 0141442379

RECOMMENDED READING

Andrew Lycett,

Rudyard Kipling,

Trafalgar Square (September 9, 1999),

ISBN 0297819070

27

Week 27: Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Rudyard Kipling: Kim

Kim is a novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author Rudyard Kipling. It was first published serially in McClure's Magazine from December 1900 to October 1901 as well as in Cassell's Magazine from January to November 1901, and first published in book form by Macmillan & Co. Ltd in October 1901. The story unfolds against the backdrop of The Great Game, the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia. The novel made the term "Great Game" popular and introduced the theme of great power rivalry and intrigue.

It is set after the Second Afghan War which ended in 1881, but before the Third, probably in the period 1893 to 1898. The novel is notable for its detailed portrait of the people, culture, and varied religions of India. "The book presents a vivid picture of India, its teeming populations, religions, and superstitions, and the life of the bazaars and the road."

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Kim No. 78 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003 the book was listed on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's "best-loved novel."
(Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Rudyard Kipling,

Kim,

Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 29, 2011),

ISBN 0141442379

RECOMMENDED READING

Andrew Lycett,

Rudyard Kipling,

Trafalgar Square (September 9, 1999),

ISBN 0297819070

28

Week 28: Tuesday, May 18, 2021
The Death of the Queen

 

"Victoria was the most powerful queen, and the most famous working mother, on the planet. When we allow her to remain— as she has done in public memory for so long— submerged in her black piles of mourning, we forget that Victoria had been fighting for her independence, her prestige, and the honor of the Crown since she was a teenager, and did so successfully and in large part alone. We also forget that she fought for an empire and values she believed in and worked until her eyes wore out, that she advised, and argued with, ten prime ministers, populated the royal courts of Europe, and kept the British monarchy stable during the political upheavals that shook Europe in the nineteenth century. We forget that she loved again, that she giggled when grandchildren played at her feet, that she helped avoid a war with the United States, that she leapt upon opportunities to fire or anoint prime ministers. We forget that suffrage expansion and antipoverty and antislavery movements in the British Empire can all be traced to her monumental reign, along with a profound rethinking of family life and the rise of religious doubt. When she died, in 1901, she was the longest-reigning monarch in English history, and she remained so until 2015, when her great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth broke Victoria’s record."   (Julia Baird, Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire, 2016)

29

Week 29: Tuesday, May 25, 2021
King Edward VII

(Above: Albert Edward, the future Edward VII, at age 5.) Edward VII (1841-1910) has been dismissed by historians for decades as a fun-loving empty vessel who made no difference in British history. That is wrong. Edward ("Bertie" to his family and friends) inherited one of the most difficult tasks ever for a British monarch: to follow on the throne a near-saint Victoria. She had endured through so many challenges, lived so long, produced nine children, that when she was gone, Britain was stunned. Her first-born son had to pick up the pieces and do his best to hold the monarchy together in a terrible time; one filled with international crises and dangers at home. Surprising every one, Edward did a good job.

RECOMMENDED READING

Jane Ridley,

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 12, 2014),

ISBN 0812972635

30

Week 30: Tuesday, June 1, 2021
The Guns of August

The last decade of the 19th Century and the first decade of the 20th Century saw days passed that were  filled with an awesome fear of the future and of change. In every European country, there were radical revolutionary movements calling for the overthrow of governments and the elimination of monarchs. Some of those monarchs were about to die at the end of a firing squad. Everywhere, there was a sense of foreboding. Then in 1901, the long-serving Queen of England died and it felt that at that moment the deluge was about to engulf the continent. And these feelings were correct. In 1914, Europe was going to fall down a black hole. Barbara Tuchman's magnificent book tells us the tale of summer 1914.

RECOMMENDED READING

Barbara Tuchman,

The Guns of August,

Series: Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 8, 1994),

ISBN 034538623X

All

Week 21: Tue., Mar. 30, 2021
The Victorian Circle: Family and Friends

In the 40 years that would elapse between the death of Prince Albert and the death of Victoria, the Queen built a whole new circle of friends, family, and advisers to take his place. Ministers came and went; children grew up and married and moved away, new friends came and went. But some very old friends endured.  In the 40 years, a new independent woman was born and this woman created a new role for the monarch of England. Take note of the great biographies that are available for Peel and Palmerston.

RECOMMENDED READING

David Cannadine,

Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906,

Viking (February 20, 2018),

ISBN 052555789X

This new history of the whole of Britain in the 19th century is a political history. It is pure politics and therefore Cannadine can devote great detail to each period. So during the quarter, if you want more information on the prime ministers and the parties it is this book that now furnishes all that information. It is a great work of history but it is too dry to sit down and read all the way through. But it is a perfect reference book for all of us on any political question.

Christopher Hibbert,

Life in Victorian England,

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 31, 2016),

ISBN 1541383559

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.

Gillian Gill,

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals,

Ballantine Books (November 30, 2009),

ISBN 0345520017

James Chambers,

Palmerston: The People’s Darling,

Thistle Publishing (April 10, 2013),

ISBN 1909609056

Douglas Hurd,

Robert Peel,

Phoenix (June 12, 2008),

ISBN 0753823845

Week 22: Tue., Apr. 6, 2021
1870: A European War Again

Europe exploded in 1870. A war broke out between France and Prussia. Great Britain tried to maintain neutrality but no one in the royal family was truly neutral. Victoria's children were spread all over Europe and her daughter and namesake, Victoria, was the Crown Princess of Prussia, the aggressor in the war. The ruler of France, Louis Napoleon, was an old friend of Britain and profoundly Anglophile. Many British openly sided with France. Even the Crown Princess of Prussia was accused of rooting for France. But in September, the whole French state collapsed into military defeat and political convulsion. Louis Napoleon was ovethrown in Paris. A new Republic was proclaimed, and the Bonaparte ruler went off to English exile as the guest of Queen Victoria for the rest of his life. Victoria treated Louis Napoleon and his wife with the greatest generosity and kindness. She had deep sympathy for a European monarch who was so suddenly thrown out by the people who had recently celebrated his leadership. In the painting above, you see the leader of the Prussian state announce the formation of the new expanded German state. He announces this good news at Versailles, just to irritate all the French people watching. The new German state is nwo expanded thanks to new formerly French territory. Louis Napoleon, the former ruler of the French state was now sitting in a German castle-prison.

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Howard,

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France 1870-1871,

Routledge; 2nd ed. (Nov. 9, 2001),

ISBN 0415266718

'No outline can suggest the richness of detail and significance, or the superb command of language with which he invests his chronicle. His book is a masterpiece.' - Sunday Times

'Brilliantly written.' - Julian Critchley, The Week

David Cannadine,

Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906,

Viking (February 20, 2018),

ISBN 052555789X

This new history of the whole of Britain in the 19th century is a political history. It is pure politics and therefore Cannadine can devote great detail to each period. So during the quarter, if you want more information on the prime ministers and the parties it is this book that now furnishes all that information. It is a great work of history but it is too dry to sit down and read all the way through. But it is a perfect reference book for all of us on any political question.

Week 23: Tue., Apr. 13, 2021
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

 

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. A later, medievalising strain inspired by Rossetti included Edward Burne-Jonesand extended into the twentieth century with artists such as John William Waterhouse. The group's intention was to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphaeland Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name "Pre-Raphaelite". In particular, the group objected to the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts, whom they called "Sir Sloshua". To the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, "sloshy" meant "anything lax or scamped in the process of painting ... and hence ... any thing or person of a commonplace or conventional kind". The brotherhood sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art. The group associated their work with John Ruskin, an English critic whose influences were driven by his religious background.
The group continued to accept the concepts of history painting and mimesis, imitation of nature, as central to the purpose of art. The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas. The group's debates were recorded in the Pre-Raphaelite Journal. (Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING

Alicia Craig Faxon,

Dante Gabriel Rosetti,

Abbeville Press; Reissue edition (October 1, 1989),

ISBN 0896599280

The paperback edition is available also, at much less cost.

Week 24: Tue., Apr. 20, 2021
William Morris (1834-1896)

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain.

Born in Walthamstow, Essex, to a wealthy middle-class family, Morris came under the strong influence of medievalism while studying Classics at Oxford University, there joining the Birmingham Set. After university, he trained as an architect, married Jane Burden, and developed close friendships with the Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and with the Neo-Gothic architect Philip Webb. Webb and Morris designed a family home, Red House, then in Kent, where the latter lived from 1859 to 1865, before moving to Bloomsbury, central London. In 1861, Morris founded a decorative arts firm with Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Webb, and others: the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Becoming highly fashionable and much in demand, the firm profoundly influenced interior decoration throughout the Victorian period, with Morris designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and stained glass windows. In 1875, Morris assumed total control of the company, which was renamed Morris & Co.

Although retaining a main home in London, from 1871 Morris rented the rural retreat of Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire. Greatly influenced by visits to Iceland, with Eiríkr Magnússon he produced a series of English-language translations of Icelandic Sagas. He also achieved success with the publication of his epic poems and novels, namely The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870), A Dream of John Ball (1888), the Utopian News from Nowhere (1890), and the fantasy romance The Well at the World's End (1896). In 1877 he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to campaign against the damage caused by architectural restoration. Embracing Marxism and influenced by anarchism, in the 1880s Morris became a committed revolutionary socialist activist; after an involvement in the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), he founded the Socialist League in 1884, but broke with that organization in 1890. In 1891 he founded the Kelmscott Press to publish limited-edition, illuminated-style print books, a cause to which he devoted his final years.

Morris is recognised as one of the most significant cultural figures of Victorian Britain; though best known in his lifetime as a poet, he posthumously became better known for his designs. Founded in 1955, the William Morris Society is devoted to his legacy, while multiple biographies and studies of his work have seen publication. Many of the buildings associated with his life are open to visitors, much of his work can be found in art galleries and museums, and his designs are still in production.
(from Wikipedia)

 

Week 25: Tue., Apr. 27, 2021
Disraeli and Gladstone

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
Benjamin Disraeli
Benjamin Disraeli

"Gladstone never envisaged a social order in which the landed aristocracy would not be the governing class, but he believed profoundly in the need for that class to be imbued with the earnestness, the moral purity, the readiness for hard work which, in his eyes, characterized the best elements of the non-conformist middle class." —Robert Blake

"Disraeli began as an outsider, a forerunner of Wilde, Proust, Waugh, fascinated by the aristocracy, half in love with it, half mocking it, an amusing young artist, the inventor of the political novel, a brilliant talker and diner-out, thought of as something of a bounder by men, and found attractive by women…. He was a romantic, a believer in dark, irrational forces and men of genius. Art, love, passion, the mystical elements of religion, meant more to him than railways or the transforming discoveries of the natural sciences, or the industrial might of England, or social improvement, or any truth obtained by measurement, statistics, deduction…. His entire life was a sustained attempt to live a fiction, and to cast its spell over the minds of others." —Isaiah Berlin Prof. Bruce Thompson on Gladstone and Disraili:

MIGHTY OPPOSITES

"The two great Prime Ministers of the nineteenth century in Britain, Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone, could not have been more different from each other. Gladstone, the Liberal, had a powerful religious conscience; Disraeli, the Tory, born Jewish but baptized, had no religious feelings at all. Disraeli wrote romantic novels about the need for building bridges between the classes; Gladstone, an Oxford-trained classicist, occupied himself with a three-volume work in which he tried to prove that Homer had anticipated the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Disraeli dressed and spoke like a dandy, had numerous love affairs, and piled up debts; Gladstone had a well-deserved reputation for financial probity and rigorous morality. In politics, Disraeli was an opportunist, Gladstone a man of conviction. Disraeli began his career by splitting the Conservative Party over the issue of the Corn Laws, bringing down Sir Robert Peel. Gladstone ended his career by splitting the Liberal Party over the issue of Home Rule for Ireland. Both sent their parties into the political wilderness for the better part of two decades, but Disraeli did so to enhance his own power, while Gladstone did so as a matter of conscience. Disraeli, says his biographer Robert Blake, "alternated between Queen Victoria's view that Gladstone was insane and the more common Tory theory that he was a monstrous hypocrite." He damned Gladstone as a "sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated with the exuberance of his own verbosity." Another contemporary: "I don't object to Gladstone always having the ace of trumps up his sleeve, but merely to his belief that the Almighty put it there." Disraeli, on the other hand, was a great actor on the public stage, watching his own performance and that of others with ironic detachment. His only genuine emotion in politics, the great historian A.J.P. Taylor has suggested (unfairly?), sprang from personal dislike—of Peel in his early career, and of Gladstone, more strongly, towards the end."

RECOMMENDED READING

David Cannadine,

Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906,

Viking (February 20, 2018),

ISBN 052555789X

This new history of the whole of Britain in the 19th century is a political history. It is pure politics and therefore Cannadine can devote great detail to each period. So during the quarter, if you want more information on the prime ministers and the parties it is this book that now furnishes all that information. It is a great work of history but it is too dry to sit down and read all the way through. But it is a perfect reference book for all of us on any political question.

James S., Jr. Donnelly,

The Great Irish Potato Famine,

The History Press (September 1, 2008),

ISBN 0750929286

Week 26: Tue., May. 4, 2021
Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888). His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature, and one critic described his work as exhibiting "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".

Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Henry James said: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known." In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize and its youngest recipient to date.[6] He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined.

Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. George Orwell saw Kipling as "a jingo imperialist", explaining that he was "morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting". Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: "[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with." (Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Rudyard Kipling,

Kim,

Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 29, 2011),

ISBN 0141442379

RECOMMENDED READING

Andrew Lycett,

Rudyard Kipling,

Trafalgar Square (September 9, 1999),

ISBN 0297819070

Week 27: Tue., May. 11, 2021
Rudyard Kipling: Kim

Kim is a novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author Rudyard Kipling. It was first published serially in McClure's Magazine from December 1900 to October 1901 as well as in Cassell's Magazine from January to November 1901, and first published in book form by Macmillan & Co. Ltd in October 1901. The story unfolds against the backdrop of The Great Game, the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia. The novel made the term "Great Game" popular and introduced the theme of great power rivalry and intrigue.

It is set after the Second Afghan War which ended in 1881, but before the Third, probably in the period 1893 to 1898. The novel is notable for its detailed portrait of the people, culture, and varied religions of India. "The book presents a vivid picture of India, its teeming populations, religions, and superstitions, and the life of the bazaars and the road."

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Kim No. 78 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003 the book was listed on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's "best-loved novel."
(Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Rudyard Kipling,

Kim,

Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 29, 2011),

ISBN 0141442379

RECOMMENDED READING

Andrew Lycett,

Rudyard Kipling,

Trafalgar Square (September 9, 1999),

ISBN 0297819070

Week 28: Tue., May. 18, 2021
The Death of the Queen

 

"Victoria was the most powerful queen, and the most famous working mother, on the planet. When we allow her to remain— as she has done in public memory for so long— submerged in her black piles of mourning, we forget that Victoria had been fighting for her independence, her prestige, and the honor of the Crown since she was a teenager, and did so successfully and in large part alone. We also forget that she fought for an empire and values she believed in and worked until her eyes wore out, that she advised, and argued with, ten prime ministers, populated the royal courts of Europe, and kept the British monarchy stable during the political upheavals that shook Europe in the nineteenth century. We forget that she loved again, that she giggled when grandchildren played at her feet, that she helped avoid a war with the United States, that she leapt upon opportunities to fire or anoint prime ministers. We forget that suffrage expansion and antipoverty and antislavery movements in the British Empire can all be traced to her monumental reign, along with a profound rethinking of family life and the rise of religious doubt. When she died, in 1901, she was the longest-reigning monarch in English history, and she remained so until 2015, when her great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth broke Victoria’s record."   (Julia Baird, Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire, 2016)

Week 29: Tue., May. 25, 2021
King Edward VII

(Above: Albert Edward, the future Edward VII, at age 5.) Edward VII (1841-1910) has been dismissed by historians for decades as a fun-loving empty vessel who made no difference in British history. That is wrong. Edward ("Bertie" to his family and friends) inherited one of the most difficult tasks ever for a British monarch: to follow on the throne a near-saint Victoria. She had endured through so many challenges, lived so long, produced nine children, that when she was gone, Britain was stunned. Her first-born son had to pick up the pieces and do his best to hold the monarchy together in a terrible time; one filled with international crises and dangers at home. Surprising every one, Edward did a good job.

RECOMMENDED READING

Jane Ridley,

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 12, 2014),

ISBN 0812972635

Week 30: Tue., Jun. 1, 2021
The Guns of August

The last decade of the 19th Century and the first decade of the 20th Century saw days passed that were  filled with an awesome fear of the future and of change. In every European country, there were radical revolutionary movements calling for the overthrow of governments and the elimination of monarchs. Some of those monarchs were about to die at the end of a firing squad. Everywhere, there was a sense of foreboding. Then in 1901, the long-serving Queen of England died and it felt that at that moment the deluge was about to engulf the continent. And these feelings were correct. In 1914, Europe was going to fall down a black hole. Barbara Tuchman's magnificent book tells us the tale of summer 1914.

RECOMMENDED READING

Barbara Tuchman,

The Guns of August,

Series: Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 8, 1994),

ISBN 034538623X