Abou Bekr Belkaid university                            2020/2021                                                     Mrs. HAMIDI. S

English Department          Lecture 1: The Edwardian Era (1901-1915)                           ASCC  LMD3 G5/6

ASCC Syllabus- LMD3

1.      The Edwardian Era

2.      Britain during WWI

3.      The Inter-war Period (the 1920s / 1930s)

4.      WWII

5.      Post War Era (the 1950’s and the 1960’s)


Books to read:  (Please check the page: Algerian Society of Readers)

Feminism and Women


Antoinette Burton, Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial


Culture, 1865-1915 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994)

Martin J. Wiener, Reconstructing the Criminal: Culture, Law, and Policy in England,


1830-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)


Race and Nation

Catherine Hall, “‘From Greenland’s Icy Mountains…to Africa’s Golden Sand’: Ethnicity, Race, and Nation in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England.” Gender and History 5, no. 2 (Summer 1993): 212-230.




Antoinette Burton, “Who Needs the Nation? Interrogating ‘British’ History,” Journal of Historical Sociology 10, no. 3 (September 1997)




Perry Anderson, “Origins of the Present Crisis”


Michael Dintenfass, The Decline of Industrial Britain, 1870-1980 (London and New York: Routledge, 1992)


E.P. Thompson, “The Peculiarities of the English,” in the Poverty of Theory


Capitalism and Empire


P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism, 1688-2000, 2nd Edition 2000 (Longman, 1993)





      Britain owes much of its progress to the 19th century when it enjoyed political stability and development in science and industry. Britain was the largest Empire at that time owning colonies almost all over the world. The Victorian Era is also called the Second English Renaissance and it is a time when there were strict cultural and political norms, progress in industry, and expansion. However, there were some problems such as the Irish Home Rule, the Boer and the Zulu War, and the Irish Potato Famine. Unfortunately, by the end of this period, the Industrial Revolution moved beyond Britain to reach America and Germany, which would become more developed than Britain.

   The Edwardian Era in Britain is the period of King Edward’s rule, which took place from 1901 to 1910, and it was even lengthened until after his death to include the 4 years leading to W. W. I. After the death of Queen Victoria, Edward VII succeeded. He was keen on literature and art in Continental Europe, which pushed him to travel a lot as opposed to his mother Queen Victoria. This period witnessed a change in the political system and in the lives of workers and women who had been marginalized during the Victorian era. French people described it as “La Belle Époque (the Beautiful Epoch) or Fin de Siècle (the end of the century referring to the end of an era and the start of another; a period of degeneracy but also a new start!)

Society and Class System in Britain

British society was divided into three classes (upper, middle, and lower class). No change from one class to another was allowed due to the economic and social problems that GB witnessed like the emergence of Communism, poverty, and women who struggled mainly because of the poor working conditions and the Industrial Revolution. However, the wealthy class enjoyed a plentiful life full of leisure and entertainment and was getting richer while the poor were getting even much poorer. As a matter a fact, there was a clear inequity between social classes but also between men and women. Women would struggle for years to get a voice in politics (Suffrage) although they joined the field of work long before in the 1880s and 1890s, they would join college only until 1910. Additionally, young men tried to found their own families and live separately from their parents “the cult of youth” and believed that only married people mattered in society. 


The Impact of King Edward VII


Fashion: King Edward was called ‘the fashionable King”. There were rapid developments in the fashion world, especially with the increasing need for more comfortable and flexible fashion, so women wore narrow corsets and long skirts. The Edwardian era was the last time women wore these "corsets," in everyday life. It is believed that the most interesting changes that followed the World War were those that influenced the world of women's fashion, and since that time, women's fashion has become shorter and shorter.




Science and technology:

 Many people regarded this era as “a period of optimism” as there were many things invented so quickly such as the telephone, the sewing machine, typewriters, airplanes, motorcars, and wireless–it was believed that war would be avoided due to the excess of helpful discoveries.

Literature, Art, and Music: authors, artists, and composers we deem “modern” had their roots in the Edwardian era. The Bloomsbury Group included author E.M. Forster, whose first four novels were published between the years 1905 and 1910. Pablo Picasso moved to Paris in 1900, and Cubism was formed around 1909-1912. Authors like Galsworthy and playwrights like Shaw, Ibsen, and Pinero challenged mid-Victorian experiences, initiating themes like venereal disease, fallen women, class, etc as the topic of their plays. Live music performances both amateur and professional were popular (Henry Wood, Edward Elgar and Gustav Holst, etc

Important personalities

The influence of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) dominated this period. Those who hoped to be accepted as “elite” blindly followed his style, speech, entertainment, amusements–and those with whom he socialized. He who opened the doors of society and welcomed the wealthy Anglo-, Franco-, and German-Jewish families (the Rothschild’s, Sassoon’s, and Cassel’s, etc), US millionaires, and the nouveaux riches came from Britain’s many colonies.


The economy during the Edwardian Era:

    The riches of the Edwardian era was built on trade and industry of the following items and goods: mining, mainly coal, the chief supply of energy, the production of iron and steel, shipbuilding, cloth making,  and other stuff from cotton and wool, producing household goods and equipment,...Etc. London was the financial capital of the world with a variety of goods more than those available were in Berlin, Paris, or NY. However, the working class started protesting for suffrage rights.

 Religion and Spirituality the church no longer played as fundamental a part in the daily lives of Edwardians. Darwinism, which became popular in society in the 1850s and ’60s, joined with the quick technological progress of the era, and numerous people felt man be almost unbeatable!



   Colonial wars in the Boer Republics and a rapidly growing socialist movement changed the dynamics of power in Britain. The war divided political opinion at home and asked some searching questions of Britain’s ability to govern as a colonial power. By the turn of the century, Britain’s power was both industrial and imperial. However, the future was looking more and more uncertain at a time when the German Empire was rising. While the working classes were finding a voice politically, women were still looking for suffrage. In 1903, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded in Manchester by 6 women.


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    By the year 1914, the W. W. I,  La Belle Époque came to an end. Thousands of British soldiers would not return to their families and Britain entered a time of war and economic disorder. To this end, we can say that the Edwardians really did enjoy a golden age.






Sources and further reading:





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