Democratic passions

The politics of feeling in British popular radicalism, 1809-48

By Matthew Roberts

Democratic passions
Hardcover +
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526137043
  • Publish Date: Jun 2022
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Paperback +
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526178862
  • Publish Date: May 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526137067
  • Publish Date: Jun 2022
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3706-7
    • Published Date: June 2022


    This book challenges the assumption - just as alive today as it was in the nineteenth century - that the political sphere was an arena of reason in which feelings had no part to play. It shows that feelings were a central, albeit contested, aspect of the political culture of the period. Radical leaders were accused of inflaming the passions; the state and its propertied supporters were charged with callousness; radicals grounded their claims to citizenship in the universalist assumption that workers had the same capacity for feeling as their social betters (denied at this time). It sheds new light on the relationship between protest movements and the state by showing how one of the central issues at stake in the conflict between radicals and their oppressors was the feelings of the propertied classes.


    'This book is an intriguing journey through the emotional possibilities of radicalism and the affective context that informed the politics and activism of these figures. It is well written, showing exemplary knowledge of not one but two methodological fields, and will prove to be of utmost importance to labour historians wishing to reach for the emotions that have hitherto remained absent from their pages.'
    Edda Nicolson, Labour History Review, Volume 88, Number 1

    'This is a historian's book, full of rich detail and context, and offers an important contribution not just to emotions history but to our understanding of radical politics'
    Katie Barclay, Cromohs

    'Roberts deserves huge credit for excavating such nuances from the mud heaped on them by Chartism's enemies, and enriching our understanding of the words and deeds of earlier radicals.'
    The Journal of the Social History Society

    'This is an exemplary book: a model of scholarship and craft. . Roberts has done the history of emotions an enormous service. He has also set a high bar for British political historians: emotions history is not just an add-on category, but lies at the very heart of what political history is.'
    Rob Boddice, Emotions: History, Culture, Society


    1. William Cobbett's anti-'feelosofee'
    2. Richard Carlile and the embodiment of reason's republic
    3. Robert Owen, harmonic passions and the practice of happiness
    4. Gothic King Dick: Richard Oastler and Tory-radical feeling
    5. J.R. Stephens and the prophetic politics of the heart
    6. William Lovett and the battle for asceticism in early Chartism
    7. Daniel O'Connell, Feargus O'Connor and the politics of 'anger'
    Select Bibliography


    Matthew Roberts is Associate Professor of Modern British History at Sheffield Hallam University

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