My PhD thesis aims to explore the connection between print and politics between the years 1790 and 1832, with particular emphasis on the East Midlands. Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the production and circulation of printed literature grew rapidly. As such, print quickly became one of the major ways in which the public gained access to political ideas and information.
During this period, the population and electorate also increased, especially in urban manufacturing areas typified by the counties such as Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. Traditionally, partly in reaction to this growing population, the nineteenth century has been seen as the period when there were increasing calls for social and political reform. Criticisms of the electoral system and appeals against government measures such as the Corn Laws all began to emerge during the early nineteenth century.
To date, much of the work into printed, political culture has centred on the role of newspapers. In contrast, this study uses a much broader range of sources. Whilst national and county newspapers will still be studied, this will be alongside political broadsheets and pamphlets; caricatures and satirical prints; petitions; letters; and Home Office papers. In my thesis, I examine voters, non-voters and politicians, as well as the people responsible for creating and circulating printed literature together. In doing so, I hope to provide greater understanding of the way in which politics operated within the two Houses, as well as away from Westminster, within provincial towns.