Saul David

Some Corner of an English Field

Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre


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The brutal dispersal of a huge crowd of campaigners for parliamentary reform by British cavalrymen at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, on 16 August 1819, resulting in fifteen deaths and hundreds of injuries, was one of the most notorious episodes of Regency England. Ironically dubbed ‘Peterloo’ because it came just four years after those same soldiers had helped win the famous battle in Belgium that toppled Napoleon from power, it is the subject of a new film by director Mike Leigh, who writes the foreword to this book:

As we worked on the film Peterloo, all of us, on both sides of the camera, were continually struck by the ever-increasing contemporary relevance of the story. Despite the spread of universal suffrage across large parts of the globe – poverty, inequality, suppression of press freedom, indiscriminate surveillance and attacks on legitimate protest by brutal regimes are all on the rise.

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