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Tory Phylogeny

John Brewer, 2 December 1982

In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714-1760 
by Linda Colley.
Cambridge, 383 pp., £25, February 1982, 0 521 23982 6
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Dynamics of Change: The Crisis of the 1750s and English Party Systems 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 640 pp., £37.50, May 1982, 0 521 23830 7
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... the way in which historians have developed the interpretation advanced by Colley’s mentor, Sir John Plumb, in his now classic The Growth of Political Stability. Plumb’s book, which brilliantly delineated the change from the political chaos of the 17th to the political order of the 18th century, was such a tour de force that ever since most historians ...

John Bull s’en va t’en guerre

John Brewer, 5 May 1983

Wars and Revolutions: Britain 1760-1815 
by Ian Christie.
Arnold, 359 pp., £17.50, June 1982, 0 7131 6157 4
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Augustan England: Professions, State and Society 1680-1730 
by Geoffrey Holmes.
Allen and Unwin, 323 pp., £18.50, November 1982, 0 04 942178 6
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... face clamorous demands for political and economic reform from Ireland as well as the disarray of John Company in the Indian sub-continent. The victory of 1763 had been robbed of most of the, spoils. The theme of the next stage of Christie’s story is that of recovery, a recuperation largely explained by the resilience of the British economy and the ...

Rowlandsonian

John Brewer, 5 August 1982

English Society in the Eighteenth Century 
by Roy Porter.
Allen Lane/Pelican, 424 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 7139 1417 3
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... British social history, for so long in protracted adolescence, seems finally to have come of age. The work of two generations of researchers, led by such avatars as Alan Everitt, Peter Laslett, J. H. Plumb, Lawrence Stone, Keith Thomas and E. P. Thompson, now constitutes a substantial body of knowledge that has transformed our conception both of British history and of what constitutes legitimate historical inquiry ...

Progressive Agenda

John Brewer, 18 March 1982

The Watercolours and Drawings of Thomas Bewick and his Workshop Apprentices 
by Iain Bain.
Gordon Fraser, 233 pp., £125, July 1981, 0 86092 057 7
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... Thomas Bewick was a creature of paradox: an artist who laboured as a craftsman, a proud provincial whose work achieved national fame, a portrayer of the countryside who spent most of his life in an industrial town, and a rational man of the Enlightenment who fed the fierce streams of Romanticism. Thanks to four people – Bewick himself, who wrote a marvellous autobiographical Memoir, his two spinster daughters, who nursed and guarded his reputation with ferocious filial piety, and now Iain Bain, whose sympathetic but rigorous scholarship is epitomised by his two-volume monograph on Bewick’s watercolours and drawings – as much is probably known about Bewick, despite his minor status among the luminaries of British art, as about any other native artist ...

In Praise of Lolly

Linda Colley, 3 February 1983

The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialisation of 18th-Century England 
by Neil McKendrick, John Brewer and J.H. Plumb.
Europa, 355 pp., £18.50, July 1982, 0 905118 00 6
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... In a book as lively, as diverse and as rich as the society it describes, Neil McKendrick, John Brewer and their joint mentor, Sir John Plumb, have gone far to rectify this omission. Moving from pots to strops, McKendrick explains the varied entrepreneurial skills of a tycoon, Josiah Wedgwood, and a comparative ...

Cultivating Cultivation

John Mullan: English culture, 18 June 1998

The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century 
by John Brewer.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £19.99, January 1997, 0 00 255537 9
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... they were accessible to all who could pay the price of admission. One of the leading characters in John Brewer’s The Pleasure of the Imagination was a visitor to pleasure gardens. Anna Margaretta Larpent was a moderately prosperous lady living in London in the late 18th century, married to the state official responsible for vetting plays before they ...

Agog

Rosemary Hill: Love and madness in 18th century London, 7 October 2004

Sentimental Murder: Love and Madness in the 18th Century 
by John Brewer.
HarperCollins, 340 pp., £20, March 2004, 9780002571340
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... The mutable nature of our relationship with the past is the underlying theme of Sentimental Murder, John Brewer’s compelling and surprising pursuit, across two and a half centuries, of the events of a single evening in 1779. What happened in Covent Garden on 7 April was simple enough and largely undisputed at the time or later ...

At the Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland, 19 July 2012

... subjects might as well have stuck their heads through a hole in a pre-painted background. But as John Brewer emphasises in his catalogue essay, the Tour was more socially mixed than it might appear. Basset, the biggest spender among the consigners to the Westmorland, was not an aristocrat but the beneficiary of a recent family fortune made from Cornish ...

Was it because of the war?

Rogers Brubaker: Building Europe, 15 October 1998

Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe 
by Thomas Ertman.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 48222 4
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... and to co-ordinate and finance standing armies. Nearly a decade ago, in The Sinews of Power, John Brewer undermined the foundations of this view of British exceptionalism with his portrait of an 18th-century British state that was, in key respects, large, strong, militarised, modern and highly bureaucratic. The British Navy, no less than Continental ...

Scribbling Rascal

Leslie Mitchell, 1 August 1996

John Wilkes 
by Peter D.G. Thomas.
Oxford, 280 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 19 820544 9
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... rumour could get about that Radicalism was really nothing more than a misplaced desire to tease. John Wilkes met all these criteria, and was therefore much loved. Peter Thomas has produced the first serious study of Wilkes for some years. This neglect is surprising, in that Wilkes was the quintessential English Radical. With few teeth, a pronounced lisp and ...

Casual Offenders

J.S. Morrill, 7 May 1981

The Justice and the Mare’s Ale 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 238 pp., £8.50, March 1981, 0 631 12681 3
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... to the important collections of essays edited by J.S. Cockburn (Crime in England, 1550-1750), by John Brewer and John Styles (An Ungovernable People?) and by V.A. Gatrell, B. Lenman and G. Parker (Crime and the Law); to the implications of the work of Peter Laslett; and above all to the burgeoning number of studies of ...

Strong Government

Linda Colley, 7 December 1989

The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1788 
by John Brewer.
Unwin Hyman, 289 pp., £28, April 1989, 0 04 445292 6
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Cambridge in the Age of the Enlightenment: Science, Religion and Politics from the Restoration to the French Revolution 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £32.50, June 1989, 0 521 35139 1
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Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 
by C.A. Bayly.
Longman, 295 pp., £16.95, June 1989, 0 582 04287 9
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... and stability with Leviathan unbound rather than with an unusual degree of constitutional liberty. John Brewer’s paean to the ‘fiscal-military state’ is the most impressive analysis of the way 18th-century Britain actually worked since Lewis Namier anatomised its parliamentary and electoral system in The Structure of Politics at the Accession of ...

Prinney, Boney, Boot

Roy Porter, 20 March 1986

The English Satirical Print 1600-1832 
edited by Michael Duffy.
Chadwyck-Healey, February 1986
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... put political cartoons on the map. The print-makers of the 1760s had a field-day with a heroic John Wilkes (‘Wilkes and Liberty’) and with Lord Bute as Public Enemy Number One (no fewer than four hundred anti-Bute satires appeared, mainly sporting a jackboot and a petticoat inscribed ‘no petticoat government’, in reference to Bute’s alleged ...

Duels in the Dark

Colin Kidd: Lewis Namier’s Obsessions, 25 November 2019

Conservative Revolutionary: The Lives of Lewis Namier 
by D.W. Hayton.
Manchester, 472 pp., £25, August 2019, 978 0 7190 8603 8
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... a different kind of anti-Whig historian – in George III and the Historians (1957), and from John Brewer, whose pioneering attempt to reconstruct the wider political culture of print, public opinion and street theatre in Namier’s home decade of the 1760s was tellingly entitled Party Ideology and Popular Politics at the Accession of George III ...

Sticktoitiveness

John Sutherland, 8 June 1995

Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... ago, among a chorus of praise for the new, revised Oxford English Dictionary, OED2, Charlotte Brewer entered a dissenting opinion (3 August 1989): The riches stored in the two previous dictionaries are now much more accessible, and reviewers have already reported how delightful it is to browse through one of the 20 handsome volumes of OED2, and ...

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