Empire and history writing 1830s–1890s
in Empire and history writing in Britain c.1750–2012
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This chapter discusses the way in which Empire shaped important trends in the diversity of nineteenth-century writing, focusing on works between the 1830s and 1890s. There is detailed discussion on the themes of race, religion and reform – with an in-depth explanation of missionaries, and their influence on both society and historical writings of the time. Themes of ‘barbarism’ and ‘civilisation’ inherited from eighteenth-century discourse are discussed in this chapter with the continuing popularity of orientalising stereotypes also being explored. There is also a focus on how Britons aimed to shape imperial policy around a sense of their organic racial identity, with the chapter concluding with an explanation of how in the nineteenth century, qualities of the ‘English’ or ‘British’ were seen either as beacons of progress or actively managing colonial subjects, and both these roles were depicted within historical accounts.

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