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G.D.H. Cole and William Cobbett

Griffiths, Clare V. J. 1999. G.D.H. Cole and William Cobbett. Rural History 10 (1) , pp. 91-104. 10.1017/S0956793300001709

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Abstract

William Cobbett was, during his own lifetime, a highly controversial figure who often found it necessary to defend himself against supposed misrepresentation. His historical persona remains no less controversial. The complexities of Cobbett's career and character have supported a variety of interpretations, and many writers this century have felt the need to define ‘the real Cobbett’. Modern misrepresentations have arisen less from false stories invented to damn him than from the misleading emphases employed to praise him, with both Left and Right seeking in their different ways to appropriate what they see as his legacy. For conservatives, he has been an essentially timeless figure, standing for Old England and all that may have made such a place great. Writers on the Left have treated him rather as a figure of the past, rationalised to fit into the rise of working-class consciousness and organisation, and divested of some aspects unseemly in an early representative of ‘the cause’. Cobbett has been adopted as an important figure for the Left, but readings based on the assumptions about working-class radicalism held by the modern British Labour movement have often found it necessary to exclude aspects of his writings as inconsistent, or at least idiosyncratic.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0956-7933
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:48
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/100064

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