Chartism as a cultural force
Recent years have seen the publication of several works that focus on the cultural dimension of Chartism. Hugues Journès Une Littérature Révolutionnaire en Grande-Bretagne: La Poésie Chartiste, Paris, 1991 provides an excellent overview. There are three books edited by Ian Haywood that consider Chartist fiction: The Literature of Struggle: An Anthology of Chartist Fiction, Scolar, 1995, Chartist Fiction, volume 1, Ashgate 1999, containing Thomas Doubleday’s The Political Pilgrim’s Progress and Thomas Martin Wheeler’s Sunshine and Shadow and Chartist Fiction, volume 2, Ashgate, 2001 containing Ernest Jones’ Woman’s Wrongs. Peter Scheckner (ed.) An Anthology of Chartist Poetry, London, 1989 and Brian Maidment (ed.) The Poorhouse Fugitives: Self-taught poets and poetry in Victorian Britain, Carcanet, 1987 are valuable on poetry with useful introductions. Miles Taylor Ernest Jones, Chartism and the Romance of Politics, Oxford University Press, 2003, links politics and literature especially the view of ‘poet as patriot’. Joan Allen and Owen Ashton (eds.) Papers for the People: A Study of the Chartist Press, Merlin, 2004 is an original study of the role of the Chartist press.
Carlos Flick The Birmingham Political Union and the Movements for Reform in Britain 1830-1839, Folkestone, 1978 provides a sound analysis of the role played by middle class radicals in the early stages of Chartism and David J. Moss Thomas Attwood. The Biography of a Radical, Montreal, 1990 provides the most recent biography of its leader. David Williams John Frost: A Study in Chartism, Cardiff, 1939, reprinted New York, 1969 and David Williams ‘Chartism in Wales’, in Asa Briggs (ed.) Chartist Studies, Macmillan, 1959 provide the basis for Newport as a ‘monster demonstration’. Ivor Wilks South Wales and the Rising of 1839, Croom Helm, 1984 focuses on the revolutionary dimension while David J.V. Jones The Last Rising. The Newport Insurrection of 1839, Oxford University Press, 1985 gives a detailed revisionist perspective.
H.U. Faulkner Chartism and the Churches: A Study in Democracy, New York, 1916 provides a somewhat dated view of the development of ‘Church Chartism’ in the early 1840s but should be supplemented by Eileen Lyon Politicians in the Pulpit: Christian Radicalism in Britain from the Fall of the Bastille to the Disintegration of Chartism, Ashgate, 1999. Brian Harrison Drink and the Victorians, Faber, 1971, revised edition Keele, 1994 is the seminal work on the nineteenth century temperance movement. His ‘Teetotal Chartism’, History, volume 58, (1973), pages 193-217 is the major source for this facet of Chartism. Derek Fraser Urban Politics in Victorian England, Leicester, 1976 and Power and Authority in the Victorian City, Oxford, 1979 provide the best context for any discussion of ‘municipal Chartism’.
On the Complete Suffrage Union, Alexander Wilson ‘The Suffrage Movement’ in Patricia Hollis (ed.) Pressure from Without in Early Victorian England, Edward Arnold, 1974, pages 80-104 considers the 1840s and the 1850s with a useful section on the CSU. Alex Tyrrell Joseph Sturge and the Moral Radical Party in Early Victorian Britain, Croom Helm, 1987 is the standard biography. Mick Jenkins The General Strike of 1842, London, 1980 surveys the wave of strikes with a particular emphasis on Lancashire and Raymond Challinor and Brian Ripley The Miners’ Association: A Trade Union in the Age of the Chartists, Bewick Press, 1990 looks at the 1842 strikes and beyond from the viewpoint of one occupation.
On developments after 1842, the most valuable studies look at the relationship between Chartism and the Anti-Corn Law League and the Land Plan. The study by Preston Slosson The Decline of the Chartist Movement, New York, 1916, though dated, is still essential. Lucy Brown ‘The Chartists and the Anti-Corn Law League’, in Asa Briggs (ed.) Chartist Studies, Macmillan 1959, pages 342-371 remains the major study of this issue though it should be supplemented by Paul Pickering and Alex Tyrell The People’s Bread: A History of the Anti-Corn Law League, Leicester University Press, 2000.
Malcolm Chase ‘The People’s Farm’: English Radical Agrarianism, 1775-1840, Oxford University Press, 1988 is the best general survey of this issue. Joy MacAskill ‘The Chartist Land Plan’, in A. Briggs (ed.) Chartist Studies, Macmillan, 1959, pages 304-341 and A.M. Hadfield The Chartist Land Company, Newton Abbot, 1970 remains the only extended discussion. Malcolm Chase ‘We Wish only to Work for Ourselves’: the Chartist Land Plan’ in Malcolm Chase and Ian Dyck (eds.) Living and Learning. Essays in Honour of J.F.C. Harrison, Aldershot, 1996, pages 133-148 is invaluable in bringing them up-to-date. Jamie Bronstein Land Reform and Working-Class Experience in Britain and the United States 1800-1862, Cambridge University Press, 1999 is a valuable comparative study.
Henry Weisser British Working-Class Movements and Europe 1815-48, Manchester University Press, 1975 provides the best general view of radical attitudes to Europe and the need to see Chartism in its international context. F. C. Mather Public Order in the Age of the Chartists, Manchester University Press, 1959 remains the standard text on the reaction of government to Chartism.
Chartism 1848 and beyond
Three important books have resulted in a thorough revision of how historians have viewed that climactic year: David Goodway London Chartism, Cambridge University Press, 1982, Henry Weisser April 10: Challenge and Response in England in 1848, New York, 1983 and John Saville 1848: The British State and the Chartist Movement, Cambridge University Press, 1987. Owen Ashton, Robert Fyson and Stephen Roberts (eds.) The Chartist Legacy, Merlin 1999 is especially good on 1847 and beyond, an important collection of papers. Keith Flett Chartism after 1848: The Working Class and the Politics of Radical Education, Merlin, 2005 is an important study into the campaign for democracy and of worker education after 1848.
The literature on the changing or more accommodating attitude of the working class in the 1850s and 1860s is a subject of considerable debate. The following books are worth consulting. The standard text is F.E. Gillespie Labour and Politics in England 1850-67, Durham, 1927. This should be complemented, if not superseded, by Margot Finn After Chartism: Class and Nation in English Radical Politics, 1848-1874, Cambridge University Press, 1993, Neville Kirk The Growth of Working-Class Reformism in Mid-Victorian England, Croom Helm, 1985, a study based on Lancashire and Trygve Tholfsen Working-Class Radicalism in Mid-Victorian England, Croom Helm, 1976. Miles Taylor The Decline of British Radicalism 1847-1860, Oxford University Press, 1995 should be regarded as essential reading. E. F. Biagini and A. J. Reid (eds.) Currents of Radicalism: Popular Radicalism, Organised Labour and Party Politics in Britain 1850-1914, Cambridge University Press, 1991 forcibly stresses continuity of attitudes across the 1850 divide.