Mackenzie Bartlett
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‘The crowd would have it that I was a hero’
Populism, New Humour and the male clerk in Marsh’s Sam Briggs adventures
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This chapter situates the adventures of Marsh’s male clerk Sam Briggs (1904–1915) within the context of the ‘New Humour’ of the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods, in order to explore the intersections between populism, comedy and mass readership at the turn of the twentieth century. Specifically, the chapter examines how Marsh tapped into the burgeoning lower-middle-class literary marketplace by deploying slapstick, satire and farce to interrogate some of the most pressing issues of his day, including the expansion of London and the effects of suburban sprawl, the ambiguous social and economic position of the male clerk, the crisis in masculinity, the contentious debates about evolution and degeneration, the rapid advancements in industry and technology and the profound consequences of the First World War.

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