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The Making of the English Working Class

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,685 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
This account of artisan & working-class society in its formative years, 1780-1832, adds an important dimension to our understanding of the 19th century. E.P. Thompson shows how the working class took part in its own making & recreates the whole life experience of people who suffered loss of status & freedom, who underwent degradation & who yet created a cul ...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published September 3rd 1991 by Penguin UK (first published 1963)
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Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 18th
I read this whilst at University in 1979; all 900 pages of it. I thought then, and I still think that it is one of the best academic history books ever written. It has its faults and controversies, but it changed the way history was studied following its publication in 1963. Thompson put at the centre the study of class and looked at those outside of the powerful elites of church and state and most closely at the lives of ordinary people; the Luddites, the weavers, early Methodists, followers of ...more
Somehow I suspect that more ink has been spilled on the insignificant Battle of Waterloo - insignificant because if not defeated ten miles south of Brussels on the 18th of July Napoleon would have been beaten somewhere else at a later date - than on Primitive Methodism yet to my thinking it is Primitive Methodism and other similar religious movements has had more of an impact on the outlooks, worldviews and cultures of millions of English lives (all the more so considering the knock on impacts o ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book I finished a couple of weeks ago and which I still cannot stop thinking about. It was hard to write a knee-jerk review because there was so much in there to process and absorb.

Long and in-depth but never dense, this is EP Thompson's masterpiece. It outlines the formation of a distinct working class in England, over the course of roughly 1780-1820, using the London Corresponding Society as a jumping off point.

I took my time with this book, treating it more like a study, really, making note
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laborhistory
Well, it took me darn near a month to finish this monster (800+ pages) of a book. Can't say I regret the experience, though. Truly , this is a masterpiece, both in terms of its substance and its approach. I could quite easily write more then a thousand words on this book, but hey, this is Amazon, right?
Before I begin, I would like to state up front that I am not a historian or a graduate student of history. Please forgive me if my review contains incorrect statements.

"The Making of the English W
David M
Been thinking about this book again. I'm thinking we - that is, American society - could use an encyclopedic work called The Makings of a Permanent American Underclass. It would sort of be like Thompson's classic in reverse; rather than the story of how various bonds of solidarity formed against a background of intense material deprivation, it would start with a situation of general affluence and show how class war then recommenced from above, eroding all social bonds to the point where we pract ...more
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has been my Everest.

It was first shown to me by my lovely husband who has very different reading habits and a very different class background to me. To me nanny is ya ma's ma. To him his nanny was someone employed by his mum and dad to watch him when they were at get the drift.

He reads a LOT of non-fiction and loves this kinds of deep, trying tome whereas I am a lover of fiction, but he pointed it out as a really important text for understanding the deep class issues ingr
OK, it's been on my currently-reading shelf for a long time. When I seemed to stall out at around p. 632, I know many of you were worried I would never finish it. But never fear, I braved the final 200 pages and made it all the way to the end.

A book so long contains many different things. Some passages were indeed difficult to get through. But many were absolutely fascinating.

The final chapter, about the Reform Bill of 1832, seemed particularly poignant in the light of the current debacle of hea
Lauren Albert
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-british
A truly excellent work of history. I'd had this on my mental "to read" list for a very long time. I'm glad I finally read it. Thompson pulls together a massive amount of research to show how the working class became a group that saw itself as a group. But he shows in great detail the ups and downs of different movements as well as those prominent in them.
Erik Graff
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Walter Wallace
Shelves: history
I've been meaning to read this book since having it recommended to me by older high school students during the sixties. Its size and the fear that it would be highly technical put me off. Ironically, I misjudged, just as I had with Das Kapital. Neither Thompson nor Marx were as difficult as I'd expected.

Thompson's book is, as it says, about the English--not the Scottish, not the Welsh, not the Irish, except insofar as they worked in England--lower orders from approximately 1789 (the inspiration
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it took me SIX MONTHS to read this, but I regret nothing
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Edward Palmer Thompson was a British historian, writer, socialist and peace campaigner. He is probably best known today for his historical work on the British radical movements in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular The Making of the English Working Class (1963). He also published influential biographies of William Morris (1955) and (posthumously) William Blake (1993) and was a p ...more
More about E.P. Thompson...
“The process of industrialization is necessarily painful. It must involve the erosion of traditional patterns of life. But it was carried through with exceptional violence in Britain. It was unrelieved by any sense of national participation in communal effort, such as is found in countries undergoing a national revolution. Its ideology was that of the masters alone. Its messianic prophet was Dr Andrew Ure, who saw the factory system as ‘the great minister of civilization to the terraqueous globe’, diffusing ‘the life-blood of science and religion to myriads… still lying “in the region and shadow of death”.’ But those who served it did not feel this to be so, any more than those ‘myriads’ who were served. The experience of immiseration came upon them in a hundred different forms; for the field labourer, the loss of his common rights and the vestiges of village democracy; for the artisan, the loss of his craftsman’s status; for the weaver, the loss of livelihood and of independence; for the child, the loss of work and play in the home; for many groups of workers whose real earnings improved, the loss of security, leisure and the deterioration of the urban environment.” 1 likes
“I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” hand-loom weaver, the “utopian” artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Their crafts and traditions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking. Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not. Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience…” 1 likes
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