Review: ‘Dark Days of Georgian Britain’, by James Hobson

Dark Days of Georgian Britain

Published by: Pen and Sword Books

Publication Date: 15th November 2017

ISBN: 9781526702548

Format: Hardback

Price: £15.99


In Dark Days of Georgian Britain, James Hobson challenges the long established view of high society during the Regency, and instead details an account of a society in change.

Often upheld as a period of elegance with many achievements in the fine arts and architecture, the Regency era also encompassed a time of great social, political and economic upheaval. In this insightful social history the emphasis is on the life of the every-man, on the lives of the poor and the challenges they faced.

Using a wide range of sources, Hobson shares the stories of real people. He explores corruption in government and elections; “bread or blood” rioting, the political discontent felt and the revolutionaries involved. He explores attitudes to adultery and marriage, and the moral panic about homosexuality. Grave robbery is exposed, along with the sharp pinch of food scarcity, prison and punishment. It is not a gentle portrayal akin to Jane Austen’s England, this is a society where the popular hatred of the Prince Regent was widespread and where laws and new capitalist attitudes oppressed the poor. With Hobson’s illustrative account, it is time to rethink the Regency.

My Review

This is one of my recent acquisitions from Alex at Pen & Sword. A box of nine turned up last week. I’ve always found the Georgian and Regency period interesting, too much Jane Austen and Sharpe as a young teenage, I think.

The politics and living conditions of the period are what interest me know. This book is comprehensive and fascinating, making connections with the present day. It’s not extensively illustrated but with enough images to give the reader the idea of conditions of the time. The author covers quite a range of subjects from grave robbing to life in a prison hulk, coinage to factory conditions, in details and using plenty of contemporary references to illustrate his points. The writing is easy to read and comprehensible to a non-specialist reader.

Highly recommended.


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