Monday, 1 February 2016

Dorothy Thompson and the Dignity of Chartism

Stephen Roberts is a respected Chartist scholar. For the past three decades he has studied and written extensively about the movement and its leading figures.

But over many years he was also first a student and subsequently a friend and collaborator of Dorothy Thompson, an iconic figure whose teaching and research transformed the study of Chartism and our understanding of the Chartists.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Pickwick at the barricades: or the musings of Mr Samuel Pickwick on the cause of Chartism

Charles Dickens may have been a bit of a radical at times, but he was certainly no Chartist. So it may come as a surprise to discover that Mr Pickwick, one of the more sympathetic characters from his early works, was a bit more of a fan. Especially as the Pickwick Papers are silent on the matter.

Samuel Pickwick, the portly personification of a comfortably off and generally good-humoured retired Londoner, was (or is), of course, a fictional character. But the Pickwick Club of which he was perpetual president and to which he lent his name, spawned a number of real-life imitators.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Southern Star and the victims of political persecution

James Bronterre O'Brien established the Southern Star in 1840 to provide himself with a platform within the Chartist movement and as a counterweight to Feargus O'Connor's Northern Star.

The paper did not last long. O'Brien lacked O'Connor's charisma, and in any event there was no mass audience for such a paper in the South of England - unlike in the North, where campaigns against the New Poor Law had created a ready constituency among the spinners, weavers and factory workers.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Katrina Navickas on Chartism, spaces and places

In seeking to understand the Chartist movement, historians have largely focused on what was said rather than where it was said. Yet the spaces and places chosen for Chartist rallies and meetings often held great significance for Chartists themselves.

Dr Katrina Navickas has put an enormous amount of work into opening up a “spatial” approach to the study of Chartism and other radical movements in the first half of the nineteenth century, and her book Protest and the Politics of Space and Place, 1789-1848 is a fascinating read.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Susanna Inge: a life after Chartism

Susanna Inge and Mary Ann Walker occupy a walk-on part in numerous histories of Chartism and of women’s involvement in 19th century radical politics.

They were the leading lights in launching the City of London Female Chartists Association, and for a few months their willingness to confront head-on the disapproval and downright misogyny directed against the idea of women’s involvement in politics earned them a certain degree of infamy.