William Hazlitt, writing of his times, spoke of 'a mighty ferment in the heads of statesmen and poets, kings and people.'
Throughout the hundred years that are the subject of this book, radical change was a vital part of the political, social and cultural climate.
The 'ferment' was a whirlwind which raged through most of Europe, demolishing traditions, values and institutions that had been accepted as indestructible for centuries. Britain's role in this huge transformation was considerably less bloody than that of other countries, but no less exciting. Since known as the Industrial Revolution, it brought intolerable wretchedness to the poor, uprooting them from their previously rural surroundings and herding them into urban slums and factories. To the emerging middle classes, especially the new factory owners, it brought hitherto un-imagined personal wealth, and pride in national prosperity and expansion. In the minds and work of the age's intellectuals, Romantic writers and artists like Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron, Blake and Turner it inspired a mixture of anger, despair, and the hope that radical ideas must succeed in creating a new and better world.
No one escaped the consequences of the ferment. Nothing was ever the same again.
David Snodin's story of the age of revolution in Britain is lavishly illustrated with almost fifty black and white illustrations and eight pages of full colour.