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  • Cited by 31
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
December 2009
Print publication year:
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Book description

This book takes a look at the 'age of reform', from 1780 when reform became a common object of aspiration, to the 1830s - the era of the 'Reform Ministry' and of the Great Reform Act of 1832 - and beyond, when such aspirations were realized more frequently. It pays close attention to what contemporaries termed 'reform', identifying two strands, institutional and moral, which interacted in complex ways. Particular reforming initiatives singled out for attention include those targeting parliament, government, the law, the Church, medicine, slavery, regimens of self-care, opera, theatre, and art institutions, while later chapters situate British reform in its imperial and European contexts. An extended introduction provides a point of entry to the history and historiography of the period. The book will therefore stimulate fresh thinking about this formative period of British history.


'The examination of the contested meanings of the language of reform is productive and, as the editors hope, opens up many lines of enquiry for future work …'

Source: Reviews in History

'… this is an essential purchase for any library worth the name. It offers a comprehensive guide to current literature on its chosen subject and period, and raises questions and issues that will set an agenda for further research … the richness of the introduction and the solid scholarship of all the essays will make an enduring contribution to knowledge.'

Peter Jupp Source: History

'This volume is eclectic in its range of topics and it certainly succeeds in demonstrating the variety in scope and practice of reform and reformers … The strength of [the book] lies in its opening up of the often contested concept of reform both from the point of view of contemporaries and historians … this volume will facilitate a broader range of national and regional studies to feed into the ever-widening debate on the 'Age of Reform'.'

Cathy Smith - University of Northampton

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