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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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... but not, thus far, what the embourgeoisement of the 18th century meant for the average English consumer. In a book as lively, as diverse and as rich as the society it describes, Neil McKendrick, JohnBrewer 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 ...

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 case for extensive participation in the earlier era. Much of this argument is a critique of 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 ...
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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... isolated, militarily discomforted and in the throes of domestic turmoil, the nation had also to 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 ...


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 ...

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 ...

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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... was publicly available and publicly pursued – pleasure heightened by being taken in public. And they were accessible to all who could pay the price of admission. One of the leading characters in JohnBrewer’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 ...


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, JohnBrewer’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 Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland

19 July 2012
... sitting in scarlet coats to Pompeo Batoni, whose portraits by this stage were so formulaic that their subjects might as well have stuck their heads through a hole in a pre-painted background. But as JohnBrewer 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 ...

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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... large bureaucracies that developed on the Continent in order to extract less readily available resources and to co-ordinate and finance standing armies. Nearly a decade ago, in The Sinews of Power, JohnBrewer 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 ...

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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... judgment that the country would have no qualms about denying him office, and so good-hearted that the 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 ...

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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... as a land worth fleeing: English historians have been more sanguine. Little or no reference is made to the important collections of essays edited by J.S. Cockburn (Crime in England, 1550-1750), by JohnBrewer 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 ...
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 all three of them are tracts for the times in that they link its subsequent prominence and stability with Leviathan unbound rather than with an unusual degree of constitutional liberty. JohnBrewer’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 ...
20 March 1986
The English Satirical Print 1600-1832 
edited by Michael Duffy.
Chadwyck-Healey, February 1986
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... almost totally clear of personal lampoons against politicians. It was the reign of George III that 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 ...

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, 978 0 7190 8603 8
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... shrivelled. The main assaults on his achievement came half a century ago, from Herbert Butterfield – a different kind of anti-Whig historian – in George III and the Historians (1957), and from JohnBrewer, 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 ...

Period Pain

Patricia Beer

9 June 1994
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 462 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7011 5933 2
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... told by a phenomenally gifted writer’. This strikes me as over-ecstatic. The Schama connection is a matter of natural and wholesome professional sympathies. Stella Tillyard is married to historian JohnBrewer who helped Schama with Citizens, as the author warmly acknowledges in the Introduction; and there is further scholarly harmony in the fact that Tillyard, in her Preface, shows that she agrees ...

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