Age of Decadence : Britain 1880 to 1914 by Simon Heffer
9781847947420 Random House
The Age of Decadence is an enormously impressive and enjoyable read.' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times`A magnificent account of a less than magnificent epoch.' Jonathan Meades, Literary Review The folk-memory of Britain in the years before the Great War is of a powerful, contented, orderly and thriving country. She commanded a vast empire. She bestrode international commerce.
Her citizens were living longer, profiting from civil liberties their grandparents only dreamt of, and enjoying an expanding range of comforts and pastimes. The mood of pride and self-confidence is familiar from Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches, newsreels of George V's coronation and the London's great Edwardian palaces. Yet things were very different below the surface.
In The Age of Decadence Simon Heffer exposes the contradictions of late-Victorian and Edwardian Britain. He explains how, despite the nation's massive power, a mismanaged war against the Boers in South Africa created profound doubts about her imperial destiny. He shows how attempts to secure vital social reforms prompted the twentieth century's gravest constitutional crisis and coincided with the worst industrial unrest in British history.
He describes how politicians who conceded the vote to millions more men disregarded women so utterly that female suffragists' public protest bordered on terrorism. He depicts a ruling class that fell prey to degeneracy and scandal. He analyses a national psyche that embraced the motor-car, the sensationalist press and the science fiction of H.