Prize Books and Politics: Rethinking Working-Class Life in Edwardian Britain
Digital Exhibition Launch – March 5th 2020
At the beginning of the Edwardian era (1901-1914), the British working classes, who represented 75% of the country’s total population, were one of the most literate and politically active in the world.
This was the result of more than twenty years of free and compulsory education, as well as the development of the labour movement, characterised by widespread trade unionism and socialism.
Book inscriptions offer a unique opportunity to explore the lives of working-class Edwardians, standing as important first-hand evidence of their reading habits, social circles, jobs, hobbies and political and religious beliefs. While some provide the formative voices of future Labour MPs or trade union leaders, most capture the voices of forgotten ‘everyday’ Edwardians who toiled as servants, seamstresses and miners.
Prize Books and Politics is a new digital project that brings to life many of these untold stories, encouraging fresh understandings of working-class life in Edwardian Britain. Beginning on the 5th March, each day the project will post an image of one book inscription that encapsulates an aspect of working-class life in Edwardian Britain alongside a short written reflection exploring its content and message. The account can be followed @prizebooksandpolitics on Instagram and @prizebooks on Twitter.