Macaulay and Son Architects of Imperial Britain Catherine Hall

Publication date:
14 Sep 2012
Yale University Press
420 pages: 229 x 152mm
16 pp. b-w illus.
Sales territories:


Thomas Babington Macaulay’s History of England was a phenomenal Victorian best-seller defining a nation’s sense of self, its triumphant rise to a powerfully homogenous nation built on a global empire and its claim to be the modern nation, marking the route to civilization for all others. In this book Catherine Hall explores the emotional, intellectual, and political roots of Zachary Macaulay, the leading abolitionist, and his son Thomas’s visions of race, nation, and empire. The contrasting moments of evangelical humanitarianism and liberal imperialism are read through the writings and careers of the two men.

Catherine Hall is professor of history at University College London. She is the author of the prize-winning Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830–1867.

'Catherine Hall has cleverly brought their lives and work together... This is a remarkably valuable and eminently readable book.' John MacKenzie, BBC History Magazine

'Hall describes Macaulay’s family context at some length, analyses it sensitively, and relates it convincingly to his career and work… The result is the most rounded and fascinating biography of a poitical figure (let alone two) that it has ever been my pleasure to read.' Bernard Porter, London Review of Books