Edward Royle looks at the most relevant titles on the 19th-century working-class political movement.
When G.D.H. Cole began his study of Chartist leaders (Chartist Portraits, Macmillan, 1941), with the words, 'Hunger and hatred – these were the forces that made Chartism a mass movement of the British working class.', he was merely reflecting what had become the standard interpretation of Chartism as an economic movement with a political programme, driven on in the northern textile districts by unemployment and the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Despite the new direction given by Asa Briggs (Chartist Studies, Macmillan, 1959) the outline of the story was not substantially changed. Briggs showed himself well aware of the importance of personalities and local radical traditions, but his general interpretation – confirmed by most of the local studies in his collection – was that social and economic considerations were of prime importance in determining the nature and incidence of Chartist activity, and that the movement was largely over by 1842.