Chartism, before and after – new books

Four new books explore themes relating to

Chartism, its background and legacy


1820. Disorder and stability in the United Kingdom

Integrating in detail the experiences of both Britain and Ireland, Malcolm Chase provides a compelling narrative and analysis of the United Kingdom in a year of European revolution. It charts the events and forces that tested the government almost to its limits, and the processes and mechanisms through which order was maintained. 1820 is about much more than a single year. Locating the Queen Caroline divorce crisis within a broader analysis of the challenges confronting the government, Chase places that much-investigated episode in a new light. It illuminates both the pivotal Tory Ministry under Lord Liverpool and the Whigs who opposed it. It is also a major contribution to our understanding of popular radicalism and its political containment.

Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-9746-1. Paperback. April.

The Chartists: Perspectives and Legacies

In this book Malcolm Chase explores some of the main channels and by-ways in the history of Chartism – both in the UK and the wider world – it considers: The place of Chartism within the wider framework of Victorian politics; The Chartist Land Plan; The impact of Canada’s 1837-8 rebellions on Chartism; Chartism’s endurance in Wales beyond the 1839 Rising; The role of children in Chartist campaigning; Key questions in Chartist historiography; Chartism’s impact on the mid-Victorian ethos of ‘self-help’, and on the workings of parliamentary democracy. This collection, firmly located within Britain’s tradition of writing ‘history from below’, offers an unusually wide variety of stimulating perspectives on key issues in the history of what, effectively, was Britain’s civil rights movement. It is written in an open, accessible style.

Merlin Press. ISBN. 978-0-85036-625-9. Paperback. June.

The Dignity of Chartism


Studies of Britain’s first major working-class movement by Dorothy Thompson, edited by Stephen Roberts.

This is the first collection of essays on Chartism by leading social historian Dorothy Thompson, whose work radically transformed the way in which Chartism is understood. Reclaiming Chartism as a fully-blown working-class movement, Thompson intertwines her penetrating analyses of class with ground-breaking research uncovering the role played by women in the movement.

Throughout her essays, Thompson strikes a delicate balance between down-to-the-ground accounts of local uprisings, snappy portraits of high-profile Chartist figures as well as rank-and-file men and women, and more theoretical, polemical interventions.

Of particular historical and political significance is the previously unpublished substantial essay co-authored by Dorothy and Edward Thompson, a superb piece of local historical research by two social historians then on the brink of notable careers.

Verso Press.   ISBN 9781781688519. May.
Malcolm’s Chase’s talk about the legacy Dorothy Thompson at the launch of the book on 5 June at Marx Memorial Library can be seen at

George Julian Harney: The Chartists Were Right.

Selections from the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle Column, 1890-97

Harney book

George Julian Harney was one of the half-dozen most important leaders of Chartism. This selection by David Goodway from the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle is the first book to reprint any of his journalism. Harney is a key figure in the history of English radicalism. His long life witnessed the Chartist movement from 1830s through to the beginnings of socialism from the 1880s. He wrote about literature, foreign affairs and politics. In his youth Harney was an admirer of the most radical figures of the French Revolution. The youngest member of the first Chartist Convention, he was an advocate of physical-force Chartism in 1838-9. His interest to historians has tended to be as the friend of Marx and Engels, the publisher of the first English translation of the Communist Manifesto and leader, with Ernest Jones, of the Chartist left in the early 1850s. Yet his finest period had been 1843-50, when he worked on the Northern Star. He lived till 1897 was producing a weekly column for the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle edited by W.E. Adams, another old Chartist and his younger admirer. The column was superbly written, politically challenging, and vigorously polymathic.

Merlin Press. ISBN. 978-0-85036-717-1. Paperback. Summer.



About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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