A compelling and entertaining history of the British middle class by the bestselling author of THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE, RAJ and WARRIOR RACE.
'A wonderfully enjoyable history of the changing fortunes of the middle orders over the past 500 years. A magisterial survey of the entire British class system, filled with richly detailed observation of the social differences on which it has thrived' Sunday Times
'Comprehensive, engaging, sharp-eyed and fair-minded. A treasure trove for anyone who wants to know how we get from yokels to 'Marks and Sparks plonk' Daily Telegraph 'An enchanting compendium of the games the English play, and the anxieties, frictions and resentments engendered in the pursuit of status' Times Literary Supplement
This is the enthralling story of the great powerhouse of British history - the middle class. The death of feudalism, the advancement of democracy, the spread of literacy, the industrial and sexual revolutions, the development of mass media - the middle class is never far away, drawing up petitions, pushing for change in attitude and legislation, engaging in philanthropy.
In this scholarly and hugely entertaining account, Lawrence James brings to life the stories of churchmen and charity-workers, lawyers and lobbyists to create an engaging and colourful social and political panorama. Richly textured and highly relevant, this is narrative history at its best.
Those who buy this book will find something to intrigue them on almost every page - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
Readable and full of fascinating quotations and figures - LITERARY REVIEW
James is a well-informed guide to the past, conducting us on a tour from Chaucer to Thatcher. He has a sharp eye for detail - INDEPENDENT
[A] magisterial, sweeping new history of the middle class in Britain . . . Amirable - HERALD
Lawrence James was a founding member of the University of York and then took a research degree at Merton College, Oxford. After a distinguished teaching career he became a full-time writer in 1985 and has emerged as one of the outstanding narrative historians of his generation for works including The Rise and Fall of the British Empire and Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist.