Please note: this day school was orginally advertised as taking place in October 2022.
A Conservative prime minister divided his party and left office in defeat. Britain’s international trade was changing as new markets far from home were sought and opened up. ‘Levelling up’ the north and the south had become a key social issue. New technologies threatened jobs and economic security. Workers were often on strike and talked of bringing down the government. The railways had boomed but were now bust. Access to food for millions of people across Europe was suddenly in jeopardy. Russian troops invaded countries to the west to end brief experiments in popular self-government.
No, this is not a description of the 2020s but of the 1840s when a young Queen Victoria was new on the throne, Sir Robert Peel was prime minister, the issue of the day was free trade following the repeal of the Corn Laws.
British writers were consumed by ‘the condition of England question’, the Chartist movement threatened domestic rebellion, across the Channel the Revolutions of 1848 seemed likely to change the map of Europe, and Russian troops invaded Rumania to bring down a liberal regime. Perhaps not so very much has changed after all, therefore.
To test this idea, this day school will look back on the literature of the 1840s, the most turbulent decade of the nineteenth century. Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Kingsley, Thomas Carlyle and many more wrote about the great social and political issues of the era. Do their descriptions of the ‘hard times’ of this era, of the divisions between ‘north and south’, and between ‘the two nations’, rich and poor, speak to us today as we grapple with similar problems?
This course will close for enrolment 2 days prior to the start date
(Course image from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom.)