Public Speech and the Culture of Public Life in the Age of Gladstone
By the last decades of the nineteenth century, more people were making more speeches to greater numbers in a wider variety of venues than at any previous time. This book argues that a recognizably modern public life was created in Victorian Britain largely through the instrumentality of public speech. Shedding new light on the careers of many of the most important figures of the Victorian era and beyond, including Gladstone, Disraeli, Sir Robert Peel, John Bright, Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Canon Liddon, the book traces the ways in which oratory came to occupy a central position in the conception and practice of Victorian public life. Not a study of rhetoric or a celebration of great oratory, the book stresses the social developments that led to the production and consumption of these speeches.