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From Belloc to Churchill : private scholars, public culture, and the crisis of British liberalism, 1900-1939
Feske, Victor.

Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c1996.
Physical Description:
xii, 304 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


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Book BILKUTUP0242428 DA1 .F45 1996 Storage Collection

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Linking historiography and political history, Victor Feske addresses the changing role of national histories written in early twentieth-century Britain by amateur scholars Hilaire Belloc, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, J. L. and Barbara Hammond, G. M. Trevelyan, and Winston Churchill. These writers recast the nineteenth-century interpretation of British history at a time when both the nature of historical writing and the fortunes of Liberalism had begun to change. Before 1900, amateur historians writing for a wide public readership portrayed British history as a grand story of progress achieved through constitutional development. This 'Whig' interpretation had become the cornerstone of Liberal party politics. But the decline of Liberalism as a political force after the turn of the century, coupled with the rise of professional history written by academics and based on archival research, inspired change among a new generation of Liberal historians. The result was a refashioned Whig historiography, stripped of overt connections to contemporary political Liberalism, that attempted to preserve the general outlines of the traditional Whiggist narrative within the context of a broad history of consensus. This new formulation, says Feske, was more suited to the intellectual and political climate of the twentieth century.

Originally published in 1996.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Liberalism and Historiography
1 The Path Not Taken?Hilaire Belloc
2 A New Form of Public HistorySidney and Beatrice Webb
3 A Case of Mistaken IdentityJ. L. and Barbara Hammond
4 The Insider as OutsiderGeorge Macaulay Trevelyan
5 The Last Public HistorianWinston Churchill
Conclusion: Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again
Hilaire Belloc in 1916
Sidney and Beatrice Webb in the early 1900s
John Lawrence Hammond, ca. 1930
Lucy Barbara Hammond, ca. 1930
George Macaulay Trevelyan, ca. 1930
Trevelyan as a young Fellow of Trinity College
Winston Churchill at work on his History of the English-Speaking Peoples in 1939