Spoken Word,

Meet The Author: Claire Langhamer

Wednesday 12th February 2014 - Starts 7pm


Claire Langhamer Shoreham Ropetackle
Claire Langhamer Shoreham Ropetackle

Lewes Live Literature is collaborating with Brighton’s leading independent bookshop, City Books, to present a talk by author Claire Langhamer.

Her book, The English In Love – the intimate story of an emotional revolution (OUP, 2013), tells the story of love at a crucial moment in British history, when the emotional landscape changed dramatically for large numbers of people. It is a story based in England, but informed by America, and covers the period from the end of the First World War until the break-up of The Beatles.

To the casual observer, this era was a golden age of marriage. More people wed than ever before, they did so at increasingly younger ages, and there was a revolution in our idea of what marriage meant. Pragmatic notions of marriage as institution were superseded by the more romantic ideal of a relationship based upon individual emotional commitment, love, sex, and personal fulfilment. And yet this new idea of marriage, based on a belief in the transformative power of love and emotion, carried within it the seeds of its own destruction. Romantic love, particularly when tied to sexual satisfaction, ultimately proved an unreliable foundation upon which to build marriages: fatally, it had the potential to evaporate over time and under pressure.

Scratching beneath the surface of the apparent “golden age” of marriage, Claire Langhamer uncovers the real story of love in the twentieth century, via the recollections of ordinary people who lived through the period. It is a tale of quiet emotional instability, persistent subversion, and unsettling change. At its end, the idea of life-long marriage was in serious decline. And, as Langhamer shows, this was a decline directly rooted in the contradictions and tensions that lay at the heart of the emotional revolution itself.

Claire Langhamer is Senior Lecturer in History at Sussex University. Her first book was Women’s Leisure In England, 1920-1960 (2000). She is a trustee of the Mass Observation archive and is an editor of the journal Twentieth Century British History. The evening will feature a talk and reading from Claire, a Q&A session, plus a book signing opportunity.

The proximity to Valentine’s Day is no accident.