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Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism, 1830-1914


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Table of Contents

1: Introduction 2: Constitutional Politics, c. 1830-1880 3: Irishness, National Character, and the Interpretation of Political Thought, c. 1830-1914 4: Critical Recovery, c. 1860-1880 5: Irish Home Rule, c. 1886-1893 6: The New Conservatism, c. 1885-1914 7: Learning Conservatism: Burke in Education, c. 1880-1914 8: Epilogue Bibliography Index

About the Author

Emily Jones is Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Manchester. After completing her DPhil in History at Exeter College, University of Oxford, in 2015, she held positions at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge and Columbia University in New York. Her current research focuses on the development of ideas about C/conservatism and constitutionalism at the turn of the twentieth century.


This is an impressive book, steeped in the intellectual history of Britain in the 19th century, but touching luminously on wider aspects of political and cultural history in explaining Burke's shifting fortunes. The resourcefulness and perceptiveness of the book strike the reader on every page, as does its feel for the different and often conflicting movements of thought that heightened interest in - and controversy about - Burke. It will inform new avenues of inquiry into C/conservatism, both in the period it has brought into focus and in others; also in related research areas. Most of all, this book underlines the nature of C/conservatism as a historical construct, rooted in claims and arguments that mobilise past thinkers in support of particular views rooted firmly in the present. * Julia Stapleton, Reviews in History *
It remains to be seen how Jones's work will shape the field of Burke studies, but it is difficult to imagine anyone writing about Burke and conservatism as they did before her groundbreaking study. She demonstrates how much more there is to say about even the most well-studied topics if we return to the foundational historical question: 'When?'. Influence - as much as the political traditions it succours - is also an invention: a product of, not something separate from, history. In essence, Jones shows us that claims, assumptions, or denials of influence - of the sort that Burke had and has on conservative traditions - have a history of their own and until we come to terms with this history, we risk not only misinterpreting that influence - i.e. Burke's relationship to conservatism - but asking the wrong questions about it. * Claire Rydell Arcena, Historical Journal *
When we think of British C/conservatism (both the party-political and the social philosophy) we think of Edmund Burke ... The association between Burke and such ideas has taken on the status of an immemorial truism. But the great value of Emily Jones's perceptive and erudite book is to show that this association was the outcome of a century of writing about Burke that only gradually turned him into a C/conservative master spirit. Hers is a compelling and admirably well-researched study in the construction of a durable political tradition. * Philip Harling, Journal of Modern History *
rich, satisfyingly complex, rigorously researched, and vigorously written * American Historical Review *
superb analysis likely to become a classic of 'reception history' * English Historical Review *
perceptive and erudite a compelling and admirably well-researched study * Harling Review *
well-grounded, and consistently interesting * History Today *
However, if Burke is not the founder of modern conservatism, then when, why, and how was it invented? In particular, how did Burke become so linked with British conservatives? Jones provides a thorough, fascinating treatment of the question, examining how British historians, politicians, and political theorists understood the work, life, and significance of Burke. Most important, she shows that from the 1890s, Burke's corpus was 'de-contextualized' and his principles were 'gradually extracted,' forming an interpretation of 'Burke as C/conservative' and the 'invention' of modern conservatism. Jones's book is an illuminating, timely, important contribution to scholarship ... Highly recommended. * CHOICE *
The power of Jones's analysis lies in the skill with which she shows how 'perceived similarities' dominate so much intellectual history and how, consequently, they misinform our understanding of the history of ideologies ... [A] vital contribution * Richard Bourke, Literary Review *
[A] fascinating story * Tony Barber, Financial Times Summer Books 2017 *
[Edmund Burke is] the subject of an intriguing, surprisingly accessible study by Emily Jones. * Paul Lay, History Today Best History Books 2017 *
[This book] is by no means a traditional history of political thought. It is about public discourse in the broadest sense, basing its analysis on a wide variety of printed sources, from political journalism to philosophical treatises to calendars of evening classes. It offers by turns in-depth analyses of pivotal texts and speeches, and wider sampling from reviews, pamphlets, and Hansard. It deals with a topic of obvious importance in a consistently illuminating fashion, aiming to show how established party doctrines and entrenched assumptions rendered certain readings of Burke's ideas particularly persuasive ... a work of serious scholarship and methodological intent, which opens new doors in the study of political reputations. And at the absolute least, it must force historians to abandon their long-standing reflexive recourse to the adjective "Burkean" in writing on modern British politics. * Alex Middleton, Journal of British Studies *

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