Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in History


Arch Dalrymple III Department of History

First Advisor

Susan R. Grayzel

Second Advisor

Anne Quinney

Third Advisor

Marc Lerner

Relational Format



This dissertation analyzes a series of Anarchist crimes, occurring in England from 1892-1911, and concentrates on the public dialogue that emerged in the popular press as a result of these crimes. British newspapers and periodicals published extensively on the crimes, and the crimes became a way for the British public to discuss wide-ranging topics, such as liberalism, labor, immigration, poverty and national degeneration. Many Britons believed that these crimes had revealed an Anarchist danger hidden within England, and, as a result, many Englanders perceived Britain's social and political customs to be outdated and unsafe. These crimes occurred at a time when popular mass media both informed and reflected British public opinion; thus, the primary sources used in this work were British newspapers, serials, journal articles and novels, as well as Government documents and parliamentary debates. This dissertation argues that the public debates stemming from these Anarchist crimes altered the self-conception of Britain's political culture. Anarchists became equated with violence, and any affiliation between Anarchism and politics was lost. Instead, Anarchists were seen as diseased and abnormal individuals who bombed and assassinated because of their depraved natures rather than political gain. Widespread fear of Anarchists dominated British political, social and economic debates, and Britain's numerous pre-existing fears at the turn of the century became embodied by Anarchism. Immigration became the importation of Anarchists into England; the plight the urban poor became the creation of Anarchists, and the State's inability to control Anarchists became proof that the British nation was crumbling. The political debates generated by the fear of Anarchism led to a reconceptualization of the British State and its relationship to the individual and the social body. For many Britons, the role of Government fundamentally changed due to the public's dialogue on Anarchism in Edwardian England. While Edwardian England is generally considered a divisive period of decay and destruction, this dissertation will contend that Edwardian England was also a time of unity and solidarity as the English public united against the comenemy of Anarchism and laid the foundation for England's postwar, interventionist State.



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