Joanne Parker
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‘Never to be confused with King Arthur’
Alfred after Victoria
in ‘England’s darling’
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King Arthur may have been so much more attractive than King Alfred to the nineteenth-century authors simply because he offered them greater imaginative freedom. The horrors of two world wars and the demise of a vast empire probably rendered the triumphal structure of Alfredian narrative less suited to the nation's mood than the downfall of Arthur's round table. The legacy of Victorian racialism made the Saxon a problematic figure for many authors in the decades during and after the Second World War. Towards the close of the nineteenth century, the theory of the Norman Yoke was superseded by the view that Norman blood had contributed positive qualities like shrewdness and determination to the composite English character. Ten years after the Alfred Millenary a more developed appeal to the value of legend was made by G.K. Chesterton.

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‘England’s darling’

The Victorian cult of Alfred the Great


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