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The Political Day in Georgian London, c. 1697 - 1834

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JournalPast and Present
DateSubmitted - 20 May 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 3 Feb 2020
DatePublished (current) - 7 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The meaning and mechanisms of eighteenth-century high politics have long been debated. Was government personal, local and the possession of the elite, or ideological, proto-modern and answerable to public opinion?  Was politics a masculine bastion, or accessible to widows and heiresses, lubricated by a social politics engineered by women?  Yet notwithstanding decades of scholarship, it is still not easy to discern precisely how and where a member of the government spent his time and how Parliament and Court ran on an ordinary day. This article uses the methodological and conceptual prism of a ‘political day’ to develop a new approach to the study of eighteenth-century political culture, using techniques developed by historians of time, space and gender to interrogate political life. Published lists of politicians’ metropolitan addresses reveal that their political campus was remarkably dense, compact and convenient - a convenience which was critical to its diurnal rhythms. The palace of Westminster did not engross as much of a politician’s day as rhetoric might lead one to expect. This article seeks to disrobe the performances of masculine authority, and to dismantle the false distinctions between women and men, the social and the political, the worthily historical and the everyday.

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© The Past and Present Society, Oxford, 2021. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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