It is important to place Chartism in the context of the ‘radical tradition’ that developed after the end of the French Wars in 1815.
Radical Politics 1815-1830
Luddism was largely over by 1815 but Malcolm Thomis The Luddites: Machine-breaking in Regency England, David & Charles, 1970 still needs to be consulted, if only for his discussion of the relationship between Luddism and the emergence of the working class. Anthony Randall Before the Luddites: Custom, community and machinery in the English woollen industry 1776-1809, Cambridge University Press, 1991 places Luddism in a longer context and is particularly valuable for its discussion of community and cultural opposition to new technology. There are three valuable critiques of Edward Thompson’s book The Making of the English Working Class, first published in 1963: Bryan Palmer The Making of E.P. Thompson: Marxism, Humanism and History, Toronto, 1981, H.J. Kaye The British Marxist Historians, Polity, 1984, pages 167-220 and H.J. Kaye and D. McClelland E .P. Thompson: Critical Perspectives, Polity, 1990.
R.J. White Waterloo to Peterloo, Heinemann, 1957 is a useful, stylist, if rather dated, study of this period. F.O. Darvell Popular Disturbances and Public Order in Regency England, London, 1934, reprinted 1969 is still valuable. They should be read in conjunction with various monographs on specific events. J. Stevens England’s Last Revolution: Pentrich 1817, Moorland Press, 1977 is a detailed local study. There are four contrasting books on Peterloo. Donald Read Peterloo: The ‘massacre’ and its background, Manchester, 1958 provides a clear narrative. R. Walmsley Peterloo: the case reopened, Manchester University Press, 1969 is a detailed study that overreacts in its defence of government, local and national. Joyce Marlow The Peterloo Massacre, London, 1969, is a popular account and R. Reid The Peterloo Massacre, Heinemann, 1989 a more recent narrative. P. Lawson ‘Reassessing Peterloo’, History Today, March 1988 provides valuable insights.
J. A. Hone For the Cause of Truth: Radicalism in London 1796-1821, Oxford University Press, 1982 is a detailed account and should be read in conjunction with Ian Prothero Artisans and Politics in Early Nineteenth Century London, Dawson, 1978. P. Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A’ Ghobhainn The Scottish Insurrection of 1820, Gollancz, 1970, reprinted 2003 is the best introduction to a neglected event. On the problem of riots see A. Calder-Marshall ‘The Spa Fields Riots’, History Today, (1971), pages 407-15, S.H. Palmer ‘Before the Bobbies: The Caroline Riots of 1821’, History Today, (1977), pages 637-44. On the revolutionary aspects of the period, see John Stanhope The Cato Street Conspiracy, 1962 and Ian McCalman Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London 1795-1840, Cambridge University Press, 1988 and his simpler article ‘Radical Rogues and Blackmailers’, History Today, (May 1988). John Belchem ‘Orator’ Hunt: Henry Hunt and English Working Class Radicalism, Oxford University Press, 1985 is an excellent biography, though his article on the same subject in History Today in March 1985 is simpler.
Marc W. Steinberg Fighting Words: Working-Class Formative Collective Action and Discourse in Early Nineteenth-Century England, Cornell University Press, 1999 examines how discourse determined collective action in the 1820s and 1830s. David Worrall Radical Culture: Discourse, Resistance and Surveillance, 1790-1820, Harvester, 1992 is especially good on ultra-radicals and the Cato Street Conspiracy. James Epstein Radical Expression: Political Language, Ritual and Symbol in England, 1790-1850, Oxford University Press, 1994 reprints five of his major essays including the invaluable ‘The Constitutionalist Idiom’ and In Practice: Studies in the Language and Culture of Popular Politics in Modern Britain, Stanford University Press, 2003 reprints six essays that respond to the changing terrain of historical studies. Historians have neglected the 1820s, despite its importance in the development of working class radical ideas. There are two books that attempt to remedy this situation: Noel W. Thompson The People’s Science: The popular political economy of exploitation and crisis 1816-34, Cambridge University Press, 1984 and The Real Rights of Man: Political Economies for the Working Class, 1775-1850, Pluto Press, 1998.
For the 1816 East Anglia riots, see A.J. Peacock Bread or Blood: a study of the agrarian riots in East Anglia in 1816, Gollancz, 1965 and for 1830 Georges Rude and Eric Hobsbawm Captain Swing, Penguin, 1973. J. P. D. Dunbabin Rural Discontent in Nineteenth Century Britain, Faber, 1975 contains some excellent material on arson as a form of protest. J.E. Archer ‘By a Flash and a Scare’: Incendiarism, animal maiming and poaching in East Anglia 1815-1870, Oxford University Press, 1991 studies Norfolk and Suffolk.
The Reform Act 1832
Michael Brock The Great Reform Act, London, 1973 is the standard work and Eric Evans The Great Reform Act of 1832 1983, 2nd ed., Routledge, 1994 is a short starting point. Robert Pearce The Great Reform Act, Cape, 2003 is an excellent narrative. John Cannon Parliamentary Reform 1640-1832, Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 1980 looks at the issue from a longer perspective. Frank O’ Gorman Voters, Patrons and Parties: The Unreformed Electorate of Hanoverian England 1734-1832, Oxford University Press, 1989 examines the vagaries of the pre-reform system. Two books by Norman Gash Politics in the Age of Peel, Harvester, 2nd ed., 1978 and his Reaction and Reconstruction in English Politics 1832-1852, Oxford University Press, 1965 provide the best analyses of the operation of the electoral system after 1832. They should be read in conjunction with David Moore The Politics of Deference, Harvester, 1976 for a difficult but rewarding alternative view. Carlos Flick The Birmingham Political Union and the Movements for Reform in Britain 1830-1839, Dawson, 1978 looks at the middle class position. B.L. Kinzer The Ballot Question in Nineteenth-Century British Politics, Garland, New York, 1982 is the definitive work on this issue and is relevant for this period. J.H. Philbin Parliamentary Representation, 1832: England and Wales, Yale University Press, 1965 is a neglected study of the immediate impact of reform. Arthur Burns and Joanna Innes (eds.) Rethinking the Age of Reform: Britain 1780-1850. Cambridge University Press, 2003 contains several revisionist essays on this period.
Owenism and Trade Unionism
There are three general works on trade unionism in the first half of the nineteenth century that are of value: Alistair J. Reid United We Stand: A History of Britain’s Trade Unions, Allen Lane, 2004, A. Fox History and Heritage: The Social Origins of the British Industrial Relations System, Allen and Unwin, 1985 and A.E. Musson British Trade Unions 1800-1875, Macmillan, 1972. Chris Wrigley ‘The Webbs: Working on Trade Union History’, History Today, (May 1987) examines and analyses the classic work on unionism. John Rule (ed.) British Trade Unionism 1750-1850: The Formative Years, Longman, 1988 is the most recent and valuable study. Harry Browne The Rise of British Trade Unions 1825-1914, Longman, 1979 contains some useful documents. R.G. Kirby and A.E. Musson The Voice of the People: John Doherty 1798-1854, Trade Unionist, Radical and Factory Reformer, Manchester University Press, 1975 is an essential study for the late 20s and 30s. James A. Jaffe Striking a bargain: Work and Industrial Relations in England 1815-65, Manchester University Press, 2000 examines the early development of collective bargaining. Joyce Marlow The Tolpuddle Martyrs, Deutsch, 1971 is a popular work. Anthony Aspinall The Early Trade Unions, 1949 is a valuable collection of documents covering the years between 1791 and 1825.
On Robert Owen, see John Butt (ed.) Robert Owen, prince of cotton spinners, David & Charles, 1971 and Sidney Pollard and John Salt (eds.) Robert Owen: prophet of the poor, Macmillan, 1971. Both were published to mark the two hundredth anniversary of his birth and contain essays covering many facets of his life. J.F.C. Harrison Robert Owen and the Owenites in Britain and America: the quest for the new moral world, Routledge, 1969 is a penetrating study of Owenism as a movement and ideology. Barbara Taylor Eve and the New Jerusalem, Virago, 1984 examines the impact of Owenite Socialism on women. Maxine Berg The Machinery Question and the Making of Political Economy, Cambridge University Press, 1980 and Noel Thompson The People’s Science: The Popular Political Economy of Exploitation and Crisis 1816-1834, Cambridge University Press, 1984, chart the development of anti-capitalist ideas. G. Claeys Machinery, money and the millennium: from moral economy to socialism 1815-1860, Princeton University Press, 1987 and Citizens and saints: Politics and anti-politics in early British socialism, Cambridge University Press, 1989 are major studies of Owenism. Gregory Claeys (ed.) Selected Works of Robert Owen, four volumes, Pickering & Chatto, 1993 contains the most important primary materials.