Self improvement, popular reform and the public good, c. 1848-1884 


Popular self-improvement was integral to the increasing class conciliation that underpinned parliamentary reform from 1867. So too was widening participation in local electoral politics. Both were fields where the residual influence of Chartism was paramount. This project will therefore appraise currents of reform in relation to Chartism’s democratisation of culture. This process crucially included the emergence of a popular market for non-fiction (particularly among women) which powerfully shaped ideas about gender roles, public good and private virtue. This project will offer a significant re-evaluation of factors shaping politics, culture and class relations in mid-Victorian Britain, centred upon the 1867 Reform Act.