Shifting Classes in Twentieth Century Britain
From Village Street to Downing Street
An unconventional family story, told with warmth and humour, this account details the mixed fortunes of a rural labouring family, a neglected group in British working-class history.
The author’s progress from farmworker’s tied cottage to Cambridge University then to a Foreign Office flat in Downing Street is remarkable, as is the heroism of the working-class parents who made that transition possible.
The description of shifts in social relations produced by such sharp movements between different classes illuminates current debates about the persistence of centuries-long inequalities.
£12.00 (+ £3.00 postage)
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Professor Quentin Skinner, School of History, Queen Mary University of London
A memoir of general and even exemplary significance, Shifting Classes begins in a Yorkshire village and ends amid the mandarins and politicians of Westminster and Whitehall. While both settings give rise to some marvellous comic set-pieces, the North-country background also provides a shocking account of deprivations endured and opportunities denied. There have been few accounts of rural working-class life and conditions in twentieth century Britain, and nothing that matches Shifting Classes for its vividness of detail and its power to reveal the injustices that kept the class-system in place.
Fred Inglis, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Sheffield
This is a rare, truthful and utterly appealing memoir, a ‘condition of England’ book that is at the same time a happy book, entirely without rancour.'