Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906
Any 19th century history of the United Kingdom must look outwards towards the rest of the world - with the UK being responsible for, at one point, 40% of all exports around the globe, and having an empire that contained anything from a fifth to a quarter of all land mass on the planet - and David Cannadine does a superb job in relating the extraordinary changes that the country underwent during this time. It was also a period when the monarchy mattered increasingly less in the general scheme of things, so we don’t get huge swathes of Queen Victoria, but plenty on the Duke of Wellington, William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli and Robert Peel. He also captures something of the dynamism of the times, with the invention of the railways etc, but also describes how the populace at large had to struggle to have their voices heard. From the Battle of Trafalgar to the fledgling Women’s Political and Social Union, this is an outstanding summary of a turbulent century that was in a constant state of flux.