Afternoon tea, the Women's Institute, Mrs Beeton, department stores, suburbia, seaside holidays and cycling clubs - all preserves of the great middle class. But where did the middle classes come from? And what makes a person middle class today?
Although the term 'middle class' is part of our everyday language, the middle class has not been a feature of the British social scene from time immemorial.
Drawing on the memories and life stories of individuals and families, as well as the words of distinguished historians and social commentators, this fascinating portrait of a people traces the roots of middle-class values in Victorian England through to the great educational reforms of the twentieth century.
Panoramic and personal, this book provides a compelling picture of this influential social group and looks at what their future might be.
About the Authors
Simon Gunn is a Principal Lecturer in History at Leeds Metropolitan University and author of the widely praised the Public Culture of the Victorian Middle Class (MUP 2000).
Rachel Bell was the series producer for BBC Bristol's Middle Class and Aristocracy.
Those of us old enough to remember the war have indelible memories of trips to the seaside in Austin Sevens, itchy short trousers and pretty print frocks, and this book, a companion to the BBC series of the same name, makes a good job of all the necessary nostalgia. The text is sharp and evocative and there are delights and memories galore inside, analysing an era that was hymned by John Betjeman but remembered with dubious affection by the rest of us. Comfortably placed people in the Home Counties attempted to reinvent themselves after the war with a vacuum-cleaner instead of a parlourmaid and with everyone driving their own little motor-car. Some of the illustrations are exceptionally poignant: a painting of two little boys playing in a sunlit bourgeois garden; and at the other end of the scale a portrait of the billionaire Courtauld couple at home, she with a raccoon perched edgily on her wrist. This is a book obviously conceived with affection: anyone with an interest in the age it portrays will love it. (Kirkus UK)
Number Of Pages: 274
Published: 1st November 2003
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 12.9 x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.291