Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Britain was confronted by a shocking series of heinous events that not only exposed how the poorest of the urban poor lived--and died--but also how the wealthy classes, in response to the horror unfolding before their eyes, endeavored to conceal their collective guilt. The setting was, perhaps appropriately, the first city of the British Empire during the late summer and fall of 1888. It was a vibrant modern city that was enjoying the fruits of capitalized industrialization and imperial expansion, but amid growing working-class dissension and increasing immigration from impoverished Eastern Europe and Ireland. London during the 1880s boasted a lively political climate in the Parliaments led by William Gladstone (188085, 1886) and the Marquis of Salisbury (Robert Cecil) (188692), and was further marked by the dramatic backdrops of the 1884 Reform Act (which increased enfranchisement for many working-class males) and the defeat of the 1886 Home Rule Bill for Ireland, which was championed by the charismatic leader of the Irish Party, Charles Stewart Parnell. It was also a time when socialist agitators were increasingly at work, with soon-to-be important voices lecturing and writing for a more just social system in
SHAW The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: Sep 11, 2012
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