Alwyn Turner – Little Englanders – Britain in the Edwardian Era

End of Empire

History sometimes provides us with neat dividing lines. Queen Victoria helpfully died just weeks into the new century, making way for a new era, but the nightmarish Twentieth Century didn’t really get into its stride until the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Between those landmarks is the Edwardian era.

There is apprehension abroad. The nation is anxious about anarchists and terrorists. There is the looming possibility of war. The complacency of the Conservative hegemony is shattered by the Liberal landslide of 1906, not to mention the rise of the Labour Party, and the hangover of the Boer War has raised a question unfamiliar to the British: “Are we the baddies?” 

Alwyn Turner has a brilliant eye for the emblematic. The cheerful swindler and MP, Horatio Bottomley who “nursed his constituency with a devotion that bordered on bribery.” The creeping respectability of the music-hall (the first ever Royal Command Performance is in 1912). Sherlock Holmes getting mercenary: “I play the game for the game’s own sake”, he said while the old Queen was on the throne, but by 1901 he is accepting payment for his investigations.

Turner turns a powerful spotlight on this neglected decade (and a half.) Our most entertaining historian characteristically finds the mood of the nation in popular songs and novels as much as newspapers and parliamentary debate. In his company the Edwardian era comes alive.

This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the Dublin Castle Pub in Camden.

Alwyn Turner – Profile Books     £25:00

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About Johnny Mindlin

Johnny Mindlin, the producer, spent 10 years in high-end speech radio, producing book programmes, entertainment / review shows and politics/discussion shows. Tim Haigh is a radio presenter and broadcaster and books reviewer. He also writes for national papers on books and literature.
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