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Restaging the Past: Historical Pageants, Culture and Society in Modern Britain

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Paul Readman (Editor), Alexander Hutton (Editor), Mark Freeman (Editor), Linda Fleming (Editor), Angela Bartie (Editor)

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherUCL Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781787354050
ISBN (Print)9781787354050
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

Restaging the Past is the first edited collection devoted to the study of pageants in Britain, ranging from its Edwardian origins to the present day.

Across Britain in the twentieth century, people succumbed to ‘pageant fever’. Thousands dressed up in historical costumes and performed scenes from the history of the places where they lived, and hundreds of thousands more watched them. These pageants were one of the most significant aspects of popular engagement with the past between the 1900s and the 1970s: they took place in large cities, small towns and tiny villages, and engaged a whole range of different organised groups, from Women’s Institutes to political parties to schools, churches and youth organisations.

Pageants were community events, bringing large numbers of people together in a shared celebration and performance of the past; they also involved many prominent novelists, professional historians and other writers, as well as featuring repeatedly in popular and highbrow literature. Although the pageant tradition has largely died out, it deserves to be acknowledged as a key aspect of community history during a period of great social and political change. Indeed, as this book shows, some traces of ‘pageant fever’ remain in evidence today.

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