The English Ideology: Studies on the Language of Victorian Politics

By George Watson

An examination of how the political literature of the 19th century sheds light on English parliamentary thought.

ISBN: 9780718891565


The English ideology is parliamentary. In this study, which first appeared in 1973, George Watson shows how literary evidence, much of it fictional, can illuminate the life of a great institution like the British parliament.

The book contains chapters on political oratory and the parliamentary novel – that uniquely Victorian form – which Disraeli created and in which Trollope excelled. It is the first comprehensive attempt to use literary evidence to expose the politics of a whole age.

It expounds nineteenth century controversies over democracy, class, race, morality and empire – a study of political language in the era when modern politics was born.

Additional information

Dimensions 216 × 140 mm
Pages 288

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

George Watson was Fellow in English at St John’s College, Cambridge, and had been Sandars Reader in Bibliography. He published a number of books on literature and political thought, including The Literary Critics, and was general editor of the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. His other publications with the Lutterworth Press include: Lost Literature of Socialism (1st Edition 1998, 2nd Edition 2010); Never Ones for Theory? England and the War of Ideas (2001); Take Back the Past: Myths of the Twentieth Century (2007); The Story of the Novel (2008); and Heresies and Heretics: Memories of the Twentieth Century (2013). He died in 2013.



1. Introduction
2. Ideology and the Victorians
3. History and Revolution
4. Ideas of the Good
5. Laissez-faire and the State
6. The Terms of Party Politics
7. Political Oratory
8. The Parliamenary Novel
9. Democracy and Equality
10. Class or Rank
11. Race and Empire
12. Socialism
13. The Sages



Endorsements and Reviews

A tour de force, vigorously argued, and provocative in the best spirit of the sources.
Stephen Koss, New York historian

George Watson is well known for his distinctive and stimulating views, and The English Ideology sees him at his best.
Prof Peter Clarke, Trinity Hall, Cambridge