The Edwardian Era is a short one – a decade at its basic understanding, 14 years in its extended version – but it’s nevertheless an age that lives on in the memories more than any royalty-based-group-of-years since. Usually it’s referred to as a pleasant break between the stern seriousness of the Victorians and the horrors of the First World War, the ‘Edwardian Summer’ remembered by war poets, but of course the reality was very different. It was an era of unrest, the confidence of empire knocked out by the Boer War, the rise of the suffragettes and the Labour Party, vast changes in technology, fashion and daily life, and much in the way of political and social turmoil.
Roy Hattersley’s book on the era does a fairly good job of explaining all of this, though the entire first half (and it’s a big book) is taken up with minutiae of the political ins and outs of the House of Commons, which is a struggle to get through to say the least. The Rex Factor podcast on the reign of Edward VII is as entertaining as ever. Otherwise it seems that fictionalised portrayals are the way to go – The Go-Between, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Howards End, Jeeves & Wooster, The Wind In The Willows, The Magician’s Nephew, My Fair Lady, basically any HP Lovecraft story. No, I’m not going to say Downton Abbey.