End of empire and the English novel since 1945

Edited by Rachael Gilmour and Bill Schwarz

End of empire and the English novel since 1945


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9745-4
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: July 2015
  • BIC Category: United Kingdom, Great Britain, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: from c 1900 -, Literature: history & criticism, Literature, Ireland, United Kingdom, Great Britain, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / European, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh


Available in paperback for the first time, this first book-length study explores the history of postwar England during the end of empire through a reading of novels which appeared at the time, moving from George Orwell and William Golding to Penelope Lively, Alan Hollinghurst and Ian McEwan. Particular genres are also discussed, including the family saga, travel writing, detective fiction and popular romances.

All included reflect on the predicament of an England which no longer lies at the centre of imperial power, arriving at a fascinating diversity of conclusions about the meaning and consequences of the end of empire and the privileged location of the novel for discussing what decolonization meant for the domestic English population of the metropole.

The book is written in an easy style, unburdened by large sections of abstract reflection. It endeavours to bring alive in a new way the traditions of the English novel.


An exemplary synthesis of literary-historical rigour and stylistic attentiveness., David James, Review of English Studies|End of Empire unveils the ambivalent nature of post-imperial national identity, shedding a new light not on the empire as such but on its end, decline, and fall., Maria Ridda, University of Kent, College Literature, 3 October 2013


Introduction: end of empire and the English novel (Bill Schwarz)
1. The road to Airstrip One: Anglo-American attitudes in the English fiction of mid-century (Patrick Parrinder)
2. Josephine Tey and her descendants: conservative modernity and the female crime novel (Cora Kaplan)
3. Colonial fiction for liberal readers: John Masters and the Savage family saga' (Richard Steadman-Jones)
4. The entropy of Englishness: reading empire's absence in the novels of William Golding (Rachael Gilmour)
5. The empire of romance: love in a postcolonial climate (Deborah Philips)
6. Passage from Kinjanja to Pimlico: William Boyd's comedy of imperial decline (Michael L. Ross)
7. Unlearning empire: Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger (Huw Marsh)
8. I am not the British Isles on two legs': travel fiction and travelling fiction from D.H. Lawrence to Tim Parks (Suzanne Hobson)
9. Queer histories and postcolonial intimacies in Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (Sarah Brophy)
10. The return of the native: Pat Barker, David Peace and the regional novel after empire (James Procter)
11. Saturday's enlightenment (David Alderson)
Afterword (Elleke Boehmer)


Rachael Gilmour is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies at Queen Mary, University of London

Bill Schwarz is a Professor in the Department of English, Queen Mary, University of London

End of empire and the English novel since 1945

Edited by Rachael Gilmour, Bill Schwarz

Paperback £18.99 / $27.95

Hardcover £90.00 / $140.00

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