Belchem, John (Charles) 1948–
Belchem, John (Charles) 1948–
PERSONAL: Born May 30, 1948, in London, England; married. Education: University of Sussex, B.A. (with honors), 1970, D.Phil., 1974.
ADDRESSES: Home—England. Office—School of History, University of Liverpool, 9 Abercromby Square, Liverpool L69 7WZ, England.
CAREER: Guildford County College of Technology, Guildford, Sussex, England, lecturer in social history, 1974–77; Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, lecturer in history, 1978–79; University of Liverpool, Liverpool, England, lecturer, 1980–88, senior lecturer, 1988–92, reader, 1992–96, personal chair in history, 1996–, director of combined honours in art, 1985–94, head of School of History, 1998–2001, acting director, Institute of Irish Studies, 2001–02, dean, Faculty of Arts, 2001–.
MEMBER: Royal Historical Society (fellow, 1987).
Industrialization and the Working Class: The English Experience, 1750–1900, Gower Publishing (Brookfield, VT), 1990.
Class, Party, and the Political System in Britain, 1867–1914, Basil Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1990.
(Editor) Popular Politics, Riot, and Labour: Essays in Liverpool History, 1790–1940, Liverpool University Press (Liverpool, England), 1992.
(Editor, with Patrick Buckland) The Irish in British Labour History ("Conference Proceedings in Irish Studies" series), Institute of Irish Studies, 1993.
(Editor, with Richard Price) A Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century World History, Basil Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1994.
Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor, with Neville Kirk) Languages of Labour Ashgate (Brookfield, VT), 1997.
(Editor) A New History of the Isle of Man, Volume 5: The Modern Period, 1830–1999, Liverpool University Press (Liverpool, England), 2000.
Merseypride: Essays in Liverpool Exceptionalism, Liverpool University Press (Liverpool, England), 2000.
(Editor, with Klaus Tenfelde) Irish and Polish Migration in Comparative Perspective, Klartext (Essex, England), 2003.
Also contributor of articles to journals.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Liverpool Irish, for Cambridge University Press.
SIDELIGHTS: British historian John Belchem specializes in the history of working-class Liverpool, especially the city's Irish, who came to the city in huge numbers during the nineteenth century to serve as laborers on Liverpool's dockyards and in its port-related industries. In works such as Class, Party, and the Political System in Britain, 1867–1914; Popular Politics, Riot, and Labour: Essays in Liverpool History, 1790–1940; The Irish in British Labour History; Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain; and Merseypride: Essays in Liverpool Exceptionalism Belchem examines the phenomenon of immigration into Britain in the nineteenth century and the often-stormy relationship between the new immigrant labor and the British managerial classes.
According to P. J. Waller in his English Historical Review assessment of Popular Politics, Riot, and Labour, "Proximity to Ireland and a booming Atlantic trade brought an ethnic mix from its earliest days: African and Chinese sailors, poor Welsh from the impoverished rural communities of North Wales, Scottish merchant families, and, most numerous of all, the Irish." Unlike much of the rest of England, the Irish arrived in Liverpool in such numbers that they were never assimilated into the local culture, stated English Historical Review contributor Sam Davies in a review of Merseypride. "The Irish in Liverpool were numerous enough to form an ethnic enclave, within which 'migrant adjustment operated through ethnic associational culture and nationalist sentiment.'" Irish institutions, such as local Catholic parishes, helped create cultural solidarity and contributed to the maintenance of a sense of Irishness in the midst of the Protestant British city.
In Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain Belchem reexamines the complex political and social world surrounding British politics in the tumultuous Victorian period. In opposition to the traditional historical view that the rise of liberal concepts of government and society was continuous and inevitable, he argues that in fact nineteenth-century liberals and radicals were often divided by class-based issues and by the diverse backgrounds of the radicals themselves. "Intellectuals as diverse as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, who served in Parliament for a time,… were among their numbers," declared Utopian Studies contributor George Mariz. The continual progression of freedoms won by the efforts of radicals, traditional historians argue, led inevitably to the ascension of labor and the coming to power of the Labour party in the early decades of the twentieth century. "Belchem coolly demythologizes the formation of the independent Labour party," wrote Stewart A. Weaver in Victorian Studies, "arguing that 'in its public political language, independent Labour kept within the mainstream current of radicalism, drawing upon conventional (and accessible) idioms and motifs.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
English Historical Review, April, 1994, John Stevenson, review of Industrialization and the Working Class: The English Experience, 1750–1900, p. 483; June, 1995, P. J. Waller, review of Popular Politics, Riot, and Labour: Essays in Liverpool History, 1790–1940, p. 784; June, 1997, Neville Kirk, review of Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain, p. 687; April, 2003, Sam Davies, review of Merseypride: Essays in Liverpool Exceptionalism, p. 539.
History Today, May, 1993, Andrew Thorpe, review of Popular Politics, Riot, and Labour, p. 59.
Utopian Studies, winter, 1997, George Mariz, review of Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain, p, 136.
Victorian Studies, autumn, 1993, John Stevenson, review of Popular Politics, Riot, and Labour, p. 183; autumn, 1996, Stewart A. Weaver, review of Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain, p. 146.