Brave New World: Imperial and Democratic Nation-Building in Britain between the Wars


Laura Beers
Geraint Thomas


After the First World War, Britain faced a number of challenges as it sought to adapt to domestic conditions of mass democracy whilst maintaining its position in the empire in the face of national independence movements. As politicians at home and abroad sought to legitimise their position, new efforts were made to conceptualise nationality and citizenship, with attempts to engage the public using mass media and greater emphasis on governing in the public interest.

Brave New World reappraises the domestic and imperial history of Britain in the inter-war period, investigating how ‘nation building’ was given renewed impetus by the upheavals of the First World War. The essays in this collection address how new technologies and approaches to governance were used to forge new national identities both at home and in the empire, covering a wide range of issues from the representation of empire on film to the convergence of politics and ‘star culture’.

This essay collection is an invaluable resource for scholars of British social, political and imperial history, as well as being of interest to the general reader.

Published as part of the IHR Conference Series by the Institute of Historical Research.


  • Introduction
    Laura Beers and Geraint Thomas
  • Preface
    Ross McKibbin
  • 1. Political modernity and ‘government’ in the construction of inter-war democracy: local and national encounters
    Geraint Thomas
  • 2. Whig lessons, Conservative answers: the literary adventures of Sir J. A. R. Marriott
    Gary Love
  • 3. The ‘Will to Work’: industrial management and the question of conduct in inter-war Britain
    Daniel Ussishkin
  • 4. Representing the people? The 'Daily Mirror', class and political culture in inter-war Britain
    Adrian Bingham
  • 5. ‘A timid disbelief in the equality to which lip-service is constantly paid’: gender, politics and the press between the wars
    Laura Beers
  • 6. Conservative values, Anglicans and the gender order in inter-war Britain
    Lucy Delap
  • 7. Cultivating internationalism: Save the Children Fund, public opinion and the meaning of child relief, 1919–24
    Ellen Boucher
  • 8. ‘Mending a broken world’: the universities and the nation, 1918–36
    Tamson Pietsch
  • 9. Inter-war agnotology: empire, democracy and the production of ignorance
    Priya Satia
  • 10. Black intellectuals in the imperial metropolis and the debateover race and empire in Sanders of the River
    Marc Matera
  • 11. Co-operatives and the technocrats, or ‘the Fabian agony’ revisited
    Aaron Windel


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September 15, 2011

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