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Book Title: Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832|
Date of issue: May 7th 2013
ISBN 13: 9781610393317
The author of the book: Antonia Fraser
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 39.33 MB
Read full description of the books Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832:Antonia Fraser's Perilous Question is a dazzling re-creation of the tempestuous two-year period in Britain's history leading up to the passing of the Great Reform Bill in 1832, a narrative which at times reads like a political thriller.
The era, beginning with the accession of William IV, is evoked in the novels of Trollope and Thackeray, and described by the young Charles Dickens as a cub reporter. It is lit with notable characters. The reforming heroes are the Whig aristocrats led by Lord Grey, members of the richest and most landed cabinet in history yet determined to bring liberty, which would whittle away their own power, to the country. The all-too-conservative opposition was headed by the Duke of Wellington, supported by the intransigent Queen Adelaide, with hereditary memories of the French Revolution. Finally, there were revolutionaries, like William Cobbett, the author of Rural Rides, the radical tailor Francis Place, and Thomas Attwood of Birmingham, the charismatic orator. The contest often grew violent. There were urban riots put down by soldiers and agricultural riots led by the mythical Captain Swing.
The underlying grievance was the fate of the many disfranchised people. They were ignored by a medieval system of electoral representation that gave, for example, no votes to those who lived in the new industrial cities of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Birmingham, while allocating two parliamentary representatives to a village long since fallen into the sea and, most notoriously, Old Sarum, a green mound in a field. Lord John Russell, a Whig minister, said long afterwards that it was the only period when he genuinely felt popular revolution threatened the country. The Duke of Wellington declared intractably in November 1830 that “The beginning of reform is the beginning of revolution.” So it seemed that disaster must fall on the British Parliament, or the monarchy, or both.
The question was: Could a rotten system reform itself in time? On June 7, 1832, the date of the extremely reluctant royal assent by William IV to the Great Reform Bill, it did. These events led to a total change in the way Britain was governed, and set the stage for its growth as the world's most successful industrial power; admired, among other things, for its traditions of good governance—a two-year revolution that Antonia Fraser brings to vivid dramatic life.
Read information about the authorAntonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's Lot in Seventeenth Century Britain (Wolfson Award for History, 1984), The Warrior Queens: Boadecia's Chariot, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Marie Antoinette: The Journey (Franco-British Literary Prize 2001), which was made into a film by Sofia Coppola in 2006 and most recently Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King. She was awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000. Antonia Fraser was made DBE in 2011 for her services to literature. Her most recent book is Must You Go?, celebrating her life with Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve 2008. She lives in London.
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