Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism, 1830-1914: An Intellectual History

ISBN : 9780198799429

Emily Jones
288 ページ
135 x 216 mm
Oxford Historical Monographs
  • Tells the story of the birth of modern C/conservatism from the ideology of Edmund Burke, no 'C/conservative', but rather an Irishman and a Whig politician
  • Shows how Burke's legacy was transformed over the course of the nineteenth century to create one of our most significant theories of modern politics and thought
  • Offers a history of ideas rooted in cultural and political contexts
  • Sets the transformation of Burke's legacy within the wider context of British political, intellectual, and cultural history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Between 1830 and 1914 in Britain a dramatic modification of the reputation of Edmund Burke (1730-1797) occurred. Burke, an Irishman and Whig politician, is now most commonly known as the 'founder of modern conservatism' - an intellectual tradition which is also deeply connected to the identity of the British Conservative Party. The idea of 'Burkean conservatism' - a political philosophy which upholds 'the authority of tradition', the organic, historic conception of society, and the necessity of order, religion, and property - has been incredibly influential both in international academic analysis and in the wider political world. This is a highly significant intellectual construct, but its origins have not yet been understood. This volume demonstrates, for the first time, that the transformation of Burke into the 'founder of conservatism' was in fact part of wider developments in British political, intellectual, and cultural history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

Drawing from a wide range of sources, including political texts, parliamentary speeches, histories, biographies, and educational curricula, Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism shows how and why Burke's reputation was transformed over a formative period of British history. In doing so, it bridges the significant gap between the history of political thought as conventionally understood and the history of the making of political traditions. The result is to demonstrate that, by 1914, Burke had been firmly established as a 'conservative' political philosopher and was admired and utilized by political Conservatives in Britain who identified themselves as his intellectual heirs. This was one essential component of a conscious re-working of C/conservatism which is still at work today.


1: Introduction
2: Constitutional Politics, c. 1830-1880
3: Irishness, National Character, and the Interpretation of Political Thought, c. 1830-1914
4: Critical Recovery, c. 1860-1880
5: Irish Home Rule, c. 1886-1893
6: The New Conservatism, c. 1885-1914
7: Learning Conservatism: Burke in Education, c. 1880-1914
8: Epilogue


Emily Jones, Mark Kaplanoff Research Fellow, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge
Emily Jones read for a BA in Politics and Modern History at the University of Manchester and, subsequently, the MSt and DPhil in History at Exeter College, University of Oxford. In 2015 she joined Pembroke College, University of Cambridge as the Mark Kaplanoff Research Fellow. Her current research focuses on the development of ideas about C/conservatism — beyond Burke — at the turn of the twentieth century.

Winner of the 2018 Longman-History Today Book Prize
"Jones ... show[s] that Burke has much to offer readers grappling with their own situations." - William Anthony Hay, Modern Age

"However, if Burke is not the founder of modern conservatism, then when, why, and how was it invented? In particular, how did Burke become so linked with British conservatives? Jones provides a thorough, fascinating treatment of the question, examining how British historians, politicians, and political theorists understood the work, life, and significance of Burke. Most important, she shows that from the 1890s, Burke's corpus was 'de-contextualized' and his principles were 'gradually extracted,' forming an interpretation of 'Burke as C/conservative' and the 'invention' of modern conservatism. Jones's book is an illuminating, timely, important contribution to scholarship ... Highly recommended." - CHOICE

"The power of Jones's analysis lies in the skill with which she shows how 'perceived similarities' dominate so much intellectual history and how, consequently, they misinform our understanding of the history of ideologies ... [A] vital contribution" - Richard Bourke, Literary Review

"[A] fascinating story" - Tony Barber, Financial Times Summer Books 2017

"[Edmund Burke is] the subject of an intriguing, surprisingly accessible study by Emily Jones." - Paul Lay, History Today Best History Books 2017

"[This book] is by no means a traditional history of political thought. It is about public discourse in the broadest sense, basing its analysis on a wide variety of printed sources, from political journalism to philosophical treatises to calendars of evening classes. It offers by turns in-depth analyses of pivotal texts and speeches, and wider sampling from reviews, pamphlets, and Hansard. It deals with a topic of obvious importance in a consistently illuminating fashion, aiming to show how established party doctrines and entrenched assumptions rendered certain readings of Burke's ideas particularly persuasive ... a work of serious scholarship and methodological intent, which opens new doors in the study of political reputations. And at the absolute least, it must force historians to abandon their long-standing reflexive recourse to the adjective "Burkean" in writing on modern British politics." - Alex Middleton, Journal of British Studies