Association and reassurance: local responses to the French Revolution in the Bath newspapers, 1789-1802

Grieves, K (2017) Association and reassurance: local responses to the French Revolution in the Bath newspapers, 1789-1802. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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The people of the City of Bath and its surrounding areas were well served by newspapers in the last decade of the eighteenth century. These newspapers provided their readers with a digest of international and national news stories gleaned from the London press and, to a lesser extent, from other provincial newspapers. They carried advertisements for businesses and printed notices on behalf of various organisations. They dedicated column space to local news and announcements, and also provided a space for readers' opinions in the form of letters to the editor. This local content in the Bath newspapers reflected the concerns of the readership, which became particularly visible during the French Revolution. Limited attention has yet been paid to local content in the provincial press, particularly with regard to its societal role. Indeed, many historians have dismissed the provincial press as amateurish and uniform. One notable exception is Hannah Barker who has argued that regional newspapers provide an insight into the local conditions in which they were created. Peter Clark has also recognised the pivotal role of provincial newspapers in facilitating the growth of an associational culture during the eighteenth century. This dissertation provides a thematic case study on the role of the provincial press during a time of ideological and military conflict, drawing upon the local content of the Bath newspapers printed during this period. This is supplemented by newspapers printed in other urban centres to provide a comparison with similar content in other provincial titles as well as demonstrating how other newspapers reported on Bath and its neighbourhood at that time. The themes that are explored include philanthropy, the presence of émigrés in the city, celebrations of royal anniversaries, the clash of radicals and loyalists, the county militia and the volunteer movement. I argue that the main role of the Bath newspapers during the French Revolution was in promoting various forms of association in the city, which became increasingly inclusive over the period, particularly with regard to women and those of a lower social status. This increased participation in civil society laid the groundwork for later democratic reforms. At the same time, they painted a reassuring picture of a united, generous and well defended city at a troubling time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

Thesis supervised by Prof Fiona Montgomery and Prof Alan Marshall.

Keywords: French Revolution, Bath (UK), newspapers, international news, local news, opinion columns, case study, military conflict, eighteenth century, inclusivity, society, émigrés, philanthropy, radicals, loyalists, county militia, volunteer movement, prisoners of war, French clergy, social exclusion, suppression, sedition trials, widows, orphans
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2018 14:36
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:34
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