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Revolution - How the Bicycle Reinvented Modern Britain

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Revolution - How the Bicycle Reinvented Modern Britain

WILLIAM MANNERS

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‘Tells a wonderful tale from the Victorian invention through to modern Britain… Impressive to make such a complicated history so concise and accessible to a wide readership.’ Mark Ian Macleod Beaumont, bestselling author of The Man who Cycled the World At the end of the nineteenth century a piece of technology emerged that surpassed all others in generating levels of excitement, discussion and controversy. That grand innovation? The Dandy Horse, the velocipede, the boneshaker, the bicycle. Praised by the then-Prime Minister as the most civilising invention in the memory of the present generation , the history of this seemingly humble contraption is the story of the major societal upheavals which it brought with it. In Revolution, cycling history expert William Manners delves into the past to illuminate just how much the bicycle transformed the day-to-day lives of men and women. With millions of people experiencing a personalised means of transport for the first time, this truly was revolutionary, and crucially available to the common man and woman cheaply. By bringing the distances between villages and towns within the reach of the population, the cycle opened up Britain s roads to a new breed of traveller with all the benefits that that brought. Put simply: the gene pool of the population was widened, and respectable behaviours and stiff-upper lips were left at home as people revelled in the freedoms opened up by journeying into the countryside whether through frequent visits to pubs, scratch bicycle races, or flirting with the daughters of the landladies whose inns they were staying at. It was also a great emancipator of women, from crib, kitchen and convention. And with it came a wave of changes in style, fashion and socialising. Taking contemporaneous accounts of the machine from previously unexplored cycling club journals (filled with wonderfully entertaining and revealing insights into the activities of members) to the writings of H.G. Wells to show its radical effects, Revolution illustrates the major impact that the bicycle had on culture, and how the machine remains a marvel of modern engineering that transformed Britain and, ultimately, the world. AUTHOR: William Manners is a keen cyclist who completed his graduate studies in History at University of York, specialising in late Victorian cycling. He grew up in the Somerset Levels regularly cycling to school and work. He has written articles about cycling for the Guardian and currently lives in Yorkshire where he blogs about the history of cycling.

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