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Politics in the Age of Peel

Norman Gash

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Politics in the Age of Peel, first published in 1953, is concerned with the ordinary working world of politicians in England during the stormy period between 1830 and 1850: the age of the railway, the Chartists, the Anti-Corn Law League and the Irish famine.

Even in the wake of the Great Reform Act of 1832 many corrupt aspects of the old unreformed system of democratic election survived; and politicians had to meet national problems in the teeth of newly clamorous public opinion, while remaining hostage to the representative structure that defined (and limited) their powers.

Norman Gash made his professional reputation with this brilliant work, hailed in an unsigned TLS review – which was known to have been written by Sir Lewis Namier – as worthy of ‘the warmest acclamation’.


Norman Gash was born in India in 1912. In 1933 he took a First in Modern History at St John’s College, Oxford. During the Second World War he served in military intelligence and rose to the rank of major. In 1953 he published Politics in the Age of Peel, and after two years at the University of Leeds he was…

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