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Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England


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  • Author: Mo Moulton, Harvard University, Massachusetts
  • Date Published: April 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107052680

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About the Authors
  • To what extent did the Irish disappear from English politics, life and consciousness following the Anglo-Irish War? Mo Moulton offers a new perspective on this question through an analysis of the process by which Ireland and the Irish were redefined in English culture as a feature of personal life and civil society rather than a political threat. Considering the Irish as the first postcolonial minority, she argues that the Irish case demonstrates an English solution to the larger problem of the collapse of multi-ethnic empires in the twentieth century. Drawing on an array of new archival evidence, Moulton discusses the many varieties of Irishness present in England during the 1920s and 1930s, including working-class republicans, relocated southern loyalists, and Irish enthusiasts. The Irish connection was sometimes repressed, but it was never truly forgotten; this book recovers it in settings as diverse as literary societies, sabotage campaigns, drinking clubs, and demonstrations.

    • Reintegrates the Irish dimension into interwar English history
    • A distinctive social and cultural approach to historical problems traditionally viewed from a narrower political angle
    • Sets the Irish case within the broader framework of decolonization following the collapse of multi-ethnic empires in the early twentieth century
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    • Proxime Accessit for the 2015 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Thought-provoking, richly evidenced and superbly structured, Moulton's book is a tour de force and a compelling argument for studying Irish and British history together.' Times Higher Education

    'A captivating, informative twinning and unravelling of those aspects of social history which our two very separate (yet perpetually intermingling) nations shared between the wars.' The Irish Mail on Sunday

    'A superb new book focusing on people often excluded from the Irish historical narrative.' The Irish Times

    'In 2014 I have particularly enjoyed the provocative questions raised by Mo Moulton's Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England. Moulton portrays the Anglo-Irish war of 1919–21 as a civil war, fought not only in Ireland but also in England, and having deep political and social repercussions for the following decades.' Lucy Delap, 'Books of the Year', History Today

    'Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England is conceptually ambitious, methodologically sophisticated, and empirically comprehensive. Moulton has successfully reinterpreted Ireland, as historical experience, identity, and locus, within the contexts of Anglo-Irish relations, empire, and the new international order. Her study integrates the structuralism of social history and cultural history's preoccupation with discourse, representation, and ritual, a methodological tension which illuminates the broader sociopolitical changes shaping interwar England. The extensive sourcing of archival material in Ireland and Britain, in addition to the USA, meanwhile, attests to the continued 'salience' of Ireland as historiographical focus. Moulton's research has mapped new contours for future historians of Ireland and Britain to follow. Such scholarship, it is hoped, will discover similarly curious middle places amid previously well-trodden topography.' Darragh Gannon, Twentieth Century British History

    'Harvard historian Mo Moulton's wonderful first book, Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England, relies on a number of unfamiliar and fascinating archival sources and reveals a complex set of attitudes towards Ireland and Irishness in England during the 1920s and 1930s.' James Moran, Dublin Review of Books

    'Mo Moulton has taken a neglected subject, the Irish in England in the two decades after the end of the Anglo-Irish war, to produce a rich and multifaceted study that casts light on both England and Ireland in the interwar period and contains echoes and anticipations of wider postcolonial history. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the book is its range, weaving together political, social and cultural themes in a manner that is almost seamless. The account that she has constructed is very rich and intricate, providing fresh and sharply observed insights at every turn. All of this is underpinned by careful and sensitive research; the manner in which the tone of various pieces of evidence is judged and calibrated is highly assured, revealing a deep understanding of the complexities of the subject. Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England is also a very engaging read. It is a model of multidisciplinary research on modern British history and has a great deal to offer specialist and non-specialist alike.' Judges of the 2015 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

    'Moulton's multidisciplinary analysis is an invaluable study of the interconnectedness of both islands in a largely neglected period.' Michaela Crawley, Liverpool Postgraduate Journal of Irish Studies

    'Ireland and the Irish [in Interwar England] takes us far beyond just the Irish community in parts of England. The author's exploration of 1916 and the Anglo-Irish War offers a remarkable and original insight into Ireland, for example through the eyes of English soldiers stationed there … This is an engaging, well-considered work of genuine originality; it is, in my view, the best book out there on the Irish in Britain in any period.' Donald M. MacRaild, Cultural and Social History

    'Mo Moulton's book is a very welcome addition to the historiography of the Irish in Britain … Moulton draws upon an impressive and comprehensive array of sources, from personal diaries and letters to contemporary journals, pamphlets and travel accounts, and is well-versed in the historiography of both islands in this period. It is a book packed with a diverse range of voices, both Irish and English, its in-depth analysis being aided throughout by well-chosen quotations … Moulton is well grounded in the craft of the historian, but is able confidently to draw upon cultural theory, sociology and literary studies to deliver a superb analysis of the nature of the new relationship between both islands and peoples of varying classes and backgrounds.' David Convery, English Historical Review

    'In Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England, Mo Moulton has drawn on an exhaustive body of archival material to offer an original and penetrating study of the relationship between Ireland and England during and after the Irish War of Independence … a fine example for other scholars looking at Anglo-Irish issues in the interwar period.' Stuart Aveyard, Journal of British Studies

    'This book raises many important yet neglected points in Irish historiography … The myriad details demonstrate the depth of research Moulton has conducted, often mining sources under-utilized by other historians. As far as possible, she allows men and women to speak for themselves as to how they experienced the conflict. This is a different perspective from most studies that focus on cabinet minutes, parliamentary debates or private papers of leading politicians.' Jennifer Redmond, Family and Community History

    'Irish in Britain. While there is a growing literature on the Victorian and post-Second World War eras, the inter-war period is relatively sparsely covered. Of the existing scholarship, most is centred on emigration from Ireland and/or the relationships between the elites of the two islands in the wake of the Anglo-Irish War. This book enormously expands its scope beyond these areas and is, quite simply, the most erudite book yet to appear on the topic.' David Convery, The English Historical Review

    'Mo Moulton's survey of the political and social aftermath of the Anglo-Irish War of 1919–21 asks challenging questions about how this conflict continued to resonate in subsequent decades. … Moulton traces the 'bittersweet' story of a kind of multiculturalism, which provided Britain with stability, but at the price of stigma and uneasy assimilation.' Lucy Delap, History Today

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107052680
    • length: 388 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the return of the repressed island
    Part I. The Anglo-Irish War:
    1. The dirtiness of this 'trouble': fighting the Anglo-Irish War
    2. The postwar international order and the mobilization of public opinion
    3. A different home front: Irish nationalists in England
    4. 'Strangers in blood' at a funeral: the Treaty of 1921 and the Irish Civil War
    Part II. Irishness in Interwar England:
    5. Politics and the Anglo-Irish relationship
    6. The cultural persistence of Irishness
    7. A decaying world in exile: the Anglo-Irish and other loyalists
    8. The Irish in England and the failure of ethnic politics
    9. Immigration and accommodation in Irish England
    10. The end of an era:
    1939 and the salience of Irishness
    Conclusion: the first decolonization?

  • Author

    Mo Moulton, Harvard University, Massachusetts
    Mo Moulton is a lecturer in history and literature at Harvard University.


    • Proxime Accessit for the 2015 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

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