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This original collection of critical essays on key issues of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century rural life, popular politics and beliefs brings together fifteen historians of the first rank. All have been closely associated with the influential figure of J. F. C. Harrison, and all share an interest in the importance of the intimately personal in history, as opposed to the history of impersonal institutions. Among the essays on popular belief are studies of millenarianism, the secularist tradition and a fascinating case study of American Muggletonianism - the last by the late E. P. Thompson. Other important essays address Chartism, gender and autobiography, vegetarianism and popular journalism. There are critical evaluations of the influence of America on British radicalism and socialism, on the motives that drove workers’ children to become teachers, and on the construction of images of English rural life.
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This is a review by leading scholars of three key themes in modern social history: popular belief, learning and labour. The collection honours the distinguished social historian J.F.C. Harrison, whose work on all three of its themes has done so much to illuminate them. The essays on belief range from apocalyptic thought to the secular movement; those on education from the early socialists to working-class teachers in Elementary schools; and those on labour from the perception of America among British radicals to the verbalisation of dissent in the 1840s. Throughout, the emphasis is on the creation of cultural and political identities, and with the intimately personal as well as the more directly institutional. The collection features original contributions from E.P. Thompson, Dorothy Thompson and other distinguished historians.
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