The Strange Death of Liberal England

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Strange Death of Liberal England is a book written by George Dangerfield published in 1935. Its thesis is that Liberal Party in Great Britain ruined itself in dealing with the House of Lords, women's suffrage, the Irish question, and trade unions, 1906-1914.[1] It was named by the Modern Library in 1998 as one of the "100 Best Nonfiction Books" published in the 20th century.



Dangerfield argues that four great rebellions before the Great War effectively destroyed the Liberal Party as a party of government. These rebellions were:

On the suffragettes[edit]

Dangerfield wrote of the suffragettes that "what they did had to be done", but he offered a highly gendered and dismissive analysis, accusing them of "asserting their masculinity", "disorder, arrogance, and outrage", and "pre-war lesbianism". They were "odious to men" and women too, "melodramatic" and "hysterical". He described Emmeline Pankhurst as a "fragile little woman, not more distinguished in her appearance than other pretty little women who have worn well". Suffragette actions were portrayed as "the swish of long skirts, the violent assault of feathered hats, the impenetrable, advancing phalanx of corseted bosoms".[2][3][4]

Publishing history and reception[edit]

The New York book publishers Harrison Smith and Robert Haas first printed the book, but it soon went out of print due to the publisher's bankruptcy. An edited version was published in Britain in 1936 for the first time by Constable. Because it was viewed as "popular history" and the book's time period was relatively recent, it largely escaped being reviewed by the major history journals.

Capricorn Books, an American publisher, put out a paperback in 1961 that stayed in print for most of the 1960s. This edition added "1910–1914" to the original title. The British studies journal Albion focused on the book and its author in Winter 1985 (Vol. 17, No. 4).[5] In 1997 it was republished by Serif and Stanford University Press, with a foreword by Peter Stansky. In 1998 the book was chosen by the editors as number eighty-two in the Modern Library as one of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books published in the 20th century.[6]


Dangerfield's work has remained prominent in its field. In a speech to the London Academy of Excellence, Conservative UK Education Secretary Michael Gove mentioned it as one of his favourite history books.[7]

The book has inspired the titles of other publications, notably works of contemporary political history. As recently as May 2017, Douglas Murray named his work on European migrant crisis and Islam in Europe, The Strange Death of Europe.[8] Books have also been published in the 2000s with the titles, The Strange Death of Republican America,[9] The Strange Death of Tory England,[10] The Strange Death of Liberal America,[11] The Strange Demise of British Canada,[12] The Strange Death of Marxism,[13] The Strange Death of Labour Scotland and even The Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism.[14] An article in The Economist in 2010 proclaimed "The strange death of social-democratic Sweden".[15]


  1. ^ It is at online free
  2. ^ Dangerfield, George (2017) [1935]. The Strange Death of Liberal England: 1910–1914. New York: Routledge, pp. 149–151.
  3. ^ Purvis, June (1995). "The prison experiences of the suffragettes in Edwardian Britain". Women's History Review. 4(1), (pp. 103–133), pp. 104–105.
  4. ^ Purvis, June (10 July 2008). "We owe them the vote", The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Symposium: George Dangerfield and The Strange Death of Liberal England". Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies. Winter 1985. JSTOR i387277. 
  6. ^ See the list at [1]
  7. ^ (7 February 2014) Michael Gove's favourite history book BBC News Online - Magazine Monitor
  8. ^ Murray, Douglas – The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (ISBN 9781472942241)
  9. ^ Blumenthal, SidneyThe Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party (ISBN 978-1402757891)
  10. ^ Wheatcroft, GeoffreyThe Strange Death of Tory England (ISBN 978-0141018676)
  11. ^ Brauer, Ralph – The Strange Death of Liberal America (ISBN 978-0275990633)
  12. ^ Champion, C.P. – The Strange Demise of British Canada (ISBN 978-0773536906)
  13. ^ Gottfried, Paul EdwardThe Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium (ISBN 978-0826215970)
  14. ^ Crouch, ColinThe Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism (ISBN 978-0745652214)
  15. ^ The Economist, Sep 16th 2010 – The strange death of social-democratic Sweden

External links[edit]