The prevailing view of the interwar period. Unemployed people lining up in London, (1930)
Please excuse the delay in publishing this. My mind has been elsewhere during the Covid-19 lockdown
In this episode of History Fireside Chats, I discuss the extent to which the 1930s can be characterised as the ‘devil’s decade’ by exploring the disparity of experience during the interwar period.
Of course, this is a nuanced issue boiled down into a cursory chat. The experience of people at the time was incredibly complicated. The experience people had depended on where they live and what their jobs were. Some people experienced intense, long term unemployment. Some people experienced an improvement in their daily lives. Some people experienced both at different times. For a more extensive discussion of the period I would recommend the following books:
- For two contemporary accounts, I would suggest J. B. Priestley, English Journey and George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier.
- An excellent introduction to the period, replete with lots of strong statistical evidence can be found in John Stevenson and Chris Cook, The Slump: Britain in the Great Depression.
- A. J. P. Taylor, English history, 1914-1945. Taylor presents a more positive view of the depression than previous historians have. In his words, whilst the depression had dark periods for many ‘Yet, at the same time, most English people were enjoying a richer life than any previously known in the history of the world.’
- Laura Beers, Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson. This biography of Wilkinson provides an excellent account of her time as MP for Jarrow, providing a good deal of context for her role in the Jarrow March and a broader impression of life during this period.
History Fireside Chats are produced, recorded and researched by Dr Kristopher Lovell.