Underground lives: ‘Peaky Blinders’ and depicting histories of post-World War I Britain

With the finale of Peaky Blinders being aired recently, I thought I’d post this article draft on the history depicted in the television series. I had written this at the end of series three, but it was never published, so I am posting here. With the General Strike of 1926, the British Union of Fascists and the Depression era Labour Party being depicted in later series, there is still much to write about the show.

Peaky Blinders (BBC2, 2013-) is a recent television show depicting the world of organised crime based around horse racing in the inter-war period, taking place in Birmingham in the years following the First World War. The show, with its depiction of a criminal gang on the fringes of the Birmingham working class, has also been contrasted with other historical television being created in recent years, starkly different from the upper class dramas of Downton Abbey (ITV, 2010-2016), Upstairs Downstairs (BBC1, 2010-2012) and The Halcyon (ITV, 2017). Although these latter shows all feature characters from the working class, they are primarily seen in interaction with the upper classes, while in Peaky Blinders, the lower classes are front and centre to the story. As George Gosling-Page has argued, in contrast to the usual cinematic and television depictions of the glamorous world of the ‘roaring twenties’, ‘Peaky Blinders offers us a suffocating, all-encompassing and hard world.’[1]

Starting in the immediate years after the First World War, Peaky Blinders revolves around the Shelby family, led by three brothers Thomas (Cillian Murphy), Arthur (Paul Anderson) and John (Joe Cole), and their crew, the Peaky Blinders, who run a gambling racket out of Birmingham and as the series progresses, expanding across the south of England and to London. Both Thomas and Arthur had been stationed in France during the War, with Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) taking over the family business and looking after several of the younger Shelby children. Many of the Shelby’s associates also served on the Western Front, including Ada Shelby’s (Sophie Rundle) late husband, Freddie (Iddo Goldberg), who was a decorated soldier, and then became a communist agitator before dying from the Spanish Influenza pandemic. By the third series, the Shelby family and associates are well established, with Thomas (and his wife Grace (Annabelle Wallis)) living in a country manor with their toddler son and the other brothers married or engaged. Despite the outward respectability of the Shelby family, the show highlights that the lure of the criminal underworld is never far away and the Shelby family, particularly Thomas, constantly have to re-enter this world in order to stave off the multiple threats that the Peaky Blinders face.

As part of a new wave of historical (or period) drama on British television, from Downton Abbey (ITV, 2010-16) to Ripper Street (BBC America, 2012-2016) to Poldark (BBC, 2015-), Peaky Blinders is a stylish and highly-produced show that seeks to portray an authentic representation of the past,[2] weaving larger historical events into the show’s fictional narrative. Unlike Upstairs Downstairs, The Halcyon and Home Front (ITV, 2012), which depict the lives of the upper and middle classes in the years leading up to the Second World War, Peaky Blinders focuses on those lives on the fringes of the working class –the criminal, the returned soldier, the Irish Republican, the communist activist – in the years following the First World War. 

It also made significant use of its Birmingham setting, an urban environment not often depicted on screen, especially its lower class areas. Birmingham in the 1920s was an industrial powerhouse in the imperial metropole and as Nick Henry et al have written, the city was ‘an important political and economic cog in the British imperial machine’.[3] But rather than focus on the imperial elites and the factory owners, Peaky Blinders takes place in the factories, the canals, the public houses, the slum housing and the streets. Paul Long has argued that ‘[t]he Birmingham of Peaky Blinders is a place constantly at work and as a consequence is resolutely working­-class’ (emphasis in the original text).[4] 

The fact that Birmingham was an important hub for the British Empire from the days of the slave trade meant that people from across the Empire came to the city and built long-lasting immigrant communities.[5] As Paul Long has written, the city’s ‘native, human capital [was] complemented by those drawn from Ireland, China, Italy and the Caribbean’,[6] which are all represented in Peaky Blinders. Often these migrants had to live on the fringes of British society and their liminal status in imperial (and post-imperial) Britain meant that they often came into contact with those operating on the fringes of legality, such as the Shelby gang. The show highlights this and represents a socially and culturally diverse urban working class, possibly informed by a more nuanced reading of the social history of inter-war Britain. 

During its first season, Peaky Blinders was referred to as the ‘anti-Downton’,[7] with its focus on the slums of Birmingham and the criminal underworld, rather than the aristocratic world of Lord Grantham and his family. This was also noted by a number of historians of this period, who watched both series with an eye to the historical record. For example, Matt Houlbrook wrote:

Challenging and provocative, operatic in scale yet intimate in the way it captures the emotional dynamics of Shelby family life and the texture of everyday social relations in the working-class neighbourhood of Small Heath, it nonetheless succeeds in giving us an impression of the 1920s in ways that Downton Abbey never can.[8]

Furthermore, crime historian Heather Shore wrote, ‘the series is edgy and gritty – providing viewers with a different diet from the usual Upstairs Downstairs fare of costume drama.’[9] Peaky Blinders has not shied away from showing a more ‘historically accurate’ account of Britain in the early 1920s. Britain in the immediate years following the First World War has been described by Susan Kingsley Kent ‘a shell-shocked society’,[10] traumatised by four years of war and facing political, social and economic turmoil. As part of this turmoil, Britain faced a number of problems including how to deal with returned soldiers, the re-emergence of organised crime, post-war poverty and the twin ‘threats’ of Irish Republicanism and Bolshevism. All of these issues are present in Peaky Blinders. Contemporary historians have argued that the British working class in the inter-war period was much more diverse than previously portrayed by past historians, as well as in popular culture.[11] In portraying a much more diverse range of people, primarily focusing on the working class and organised crime gangs outside of London, but also bringing in returned soldiers, communist trade unionists, and Irish Republicans, Peaky Blinders seems to be in step with recent historiography concerning British social history. 

Crime as social mobility

At the heart of Peaky Blinders is the question of whether crime can bring social mobility, particularly for those who have returned from the War and those outside civil society. The end of the First World War presented new opportunities for criminal activity. In Britain, organised crime networks expanded around the world of horse racing and bookmaking, which were described as the ‘racecourse wars’.[12] Although criminal enterprises around the bookmaking industry had existed in the pre-war era, Heather Shore stated, ‘in the post-war period it seems to have increasingly organized.’[13] These ‘racecourse wars’, Shore explained, 

involved mainly metropolitan criminals in affrays and fights on the streets of London and on the racecourses of South-East England. The core objective of the racecourse gangs was in securing the control of the protection business, which basically took the form of offering ‘protection’ to bookmakers and intimidating their rivals, and then taking a share of the earnings from the pitch. Bookmakers on the most profitable pitches who did not comply were threatened with violence until they moved off or submitted to the gangs’ demands.[14]

It is Thomas Shelby who sees crime as the path to social mobility and in the end, legitimacy. In both series, Thomas pushes the Shelby gang to take on their rivals in the bookmaking business, first Billy Kimber and then Charles Sabini (Noah Taylor), to increase their share of the industry. His family are initially sceptical of this, particularly after the Peaky Blinders had already taken over Billy Kimber’s business in the Midlands. In the first episode of the second series, Thomas proposes challenging the bookmakers and the gangs that ‘protect’ them in London. John objects to this:

I see all the books. Legal and off track. Sort of stuff you don’t see. And in the past year the Shelby Company Limited has been making £150 a day. Right? A fucking day. Sometimes more. So what I want to know is why are we changing things? … Look what’s happened already. We haven’t even set foot in London yet and they’ve already blown up our fucking pub.

Thomas attempts to sway the family towards expansion, holding out the prospect that once the Peaky Blinders dominate the bookmaking industry and the associated protection racket, they can transform their illegal operations into a legitimate business. At the same meeting, he pleads:

We’ve nothing to fear from the proposed business expansion so long as we stick together. And after the first few weeks, nine tenths of what we do in London will be legal. The other tenth is in good hands.

However things don’t go smoothly for the Shelby gang. Although they take the business from Sabini, intervening factors means that Thomas is almost killed at the end of the second series. By the third series, set in 1924 two years after the events of the second series, Thomas and his wife, Grace (who had been a Protestant police informant in the first series), live in a country manor house and their charity work is able to bring them into the same social circles as the leading figures of Birmingham society, but an anti-communist conspiracy pulls the Shelbys back into the criminal underworld. At the end of the series, Grace has been shot dead and most of the family, besides Thomas, have been arrested in connection with the explosion of a train that they were entrapped into bombing. 

Thomas Shelby’s search for respectability and fulfilment through the ascertation of wealth and legitimate business dealings are invariably undone by his criminal past. The viewer sees Thomas Shelby as a tragic character, felled by circumstances outside of his control just as much as his own ambition. Furthermore, he comes to recognize that the ‘lords and ladies… will never admit us to their palaces… because of where we came from’.

The ‘tragic anti-hero’ of period gangster drama

In his famous essay, film critic Robert Warshow described the gangster as a ‘tragic hero’ and that ‘irrational brutality’ and ‘rational enterprise’ become inter-mixed for the gangster.[15] The rise and fall trope is explained by Warshow:

Since we do not see the rational and routine aspect of the gangster’s behaviour, the practice of brutality – the quality of unmixed criminality – becomes the totality of his career. At the same time, we are always conscious of the whole meaning of this career is a drive for success: the typical gangster film presents a steady upward progress followed by a very precipitate fall. Thus brutality itself becomes at once the means to success and the content of success…[16]

While most of these gangsters depicted on British screens fall into the category of the ‘tragic anti-hero’ and the deserved ‘rise and fall’ of the criminal figure, Peaky Blinders is somewhat different. Even if some of the actions of Thomas Shelby and his brothers are reprehensible, the actions of those around him, primarily those representing the state and other sections of the establishment, such as the Church, are even worse. Figures of authority, such as Chief Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) or Father John Hughes (Paddy Considine), manipulate Thomas Shelby into criminal behaviour to distance themselves from the actions that they order and to implicate Shelby so he can be prosecuted for their orders in due course. We have sympathy for Thomas Shelby and disdain for those in authority, particularly for the intertwining of their personal vendetta with their broad anti-communist, and anti-Irish agendas.

In both popular culture and historical scholarship, the actions of those involved in organised crime on the fringes of the working class are often not portrayed sympathetically and gangsters have often been seen as ‘parasites’ on the ‘good’ working class. While E.P. Thompson, George Rude and Eric Hobsbawm have attempted to revive the Luddite or the riotous labourer from the ‘enormous condescension of posterity’,[17] the lumpenproletariat has not been afforded the same leeway. As John Lea and Jock Young have argued, those sections of the lower class who are involved in crime target people from the same place as them, which is to be condemned. Depictions of criminals in popular culture, where not totally negative, have taken the form of the above-mentioned ‘tragic anti-hero’, where any deeds portrayed in a positive or exciting manner are later contrasted with negative outcomes for those who transgress the law. 

In Peaky Blinders (particularly in the first series), the gang is often seen as imposing their will upon the local community. For example, Thomas Shelby intimidates the local landlord (Neil Bell) at The Garrison into selling the pub to him (for a relatively low price). Also in the first series, Freddie charges that Thomas was funding the lifestyle of himself and his family on money taken from the ‘pockets of widows and desperate men’. 

However at certain moments in the series, the Shelbys are also depicted as the protectors of the local community. The first demonstration of this is during the climatic fight at the end of the first series against Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles). As Kimber and his gang descend on the Peaky Blinders’ neighbourhood, Tommy brings together his former soldiers to defend the area, including the local African-Caribbean street preacher, Jeremiah Jesus (Benjamin Zephaniah), and the now communist activist Freddie Thorne, who brings a machine gun stolen from a British Army depot. To reignite a sense of brotherhood amongst these former soldiers, Shelby likened this battle against Kimber to the battles on the Western Front:

All right, men, you were mostly in the war, so you know that battle plans always change and get fucked up. Well, here it is. Things have changed. We fight them here. Today. Alone. Now, they’re going to come for the pub. They’re going to try to break us up for good. And we’ll have no help from the law today. That pub there is called The Garrison. Well, now it really is one. And it belongs to us, right? Right! How many are there? Jeremiah says two Riley vans. So I reckon we’re outnumbered three to one. Ah Fuck. But it’s us, boys. It’s us. The Small Heath Rifles. Never lost a fight yet, did we? No!

Despite his criminal persona, Shelby is able to appeal to his fellow returned soldiers and to other sections of the working-class community because he is essentially ‘one of them’. 

The dreams of ‘damaged’ men

Although the Shelby family was involved in crime prior to the First World War, it is the return of Thomas and Arthur from France that propels their criminal ambitions, hardened by the violence that they have witnessed during the War and unable (or reluctant) to resume ‘ordinary’ life in post-war Birmingham. Cillian Murphy, who plays Thomas Shelby, said in an interview with the BBC:

I guess the shadow of WW1 looms quite large over the show, in that it’s about these men who had been demobbed and spat back into society…[18]

One of the enduring tropes from the end of the First World War is the notion of the ‘damaged’ man returning from the front, unable to re-enter civil society and drawn to the worlds of organised crime, violence and political extremism. The attraction of the alienated demobilised soldier to the criminal underworld or to political violence was something feared by many across the Western world, and has continued to shape how we see the returned soldier in the socio-economic and political chaos that plagued the inter-war period. The mechanised brutality of the War had upended the social order across the globe and in the economic and political vacuum that emerged at the end of the War, these ‘damaged’ men (supposedly) stepped forward to stake a claim.

The characters in Peaky Blinders portray the psychological trauma explicitly, with both Thomas and Arthur Shelby, the leading figures in the Peaky Blinders gang, suffer from their memories of the War. In the first series, we see Thomas’s recurring dream of tunnelling in the First World War. Between 1915 and 1917, the Allies dug numerous tunnels on the Western Front in attempts to break up the German/Austrian trenches, using large explosive charges to destroy enemy lines. P.M. Varley wrote, ‘These blasts, delivered without warning and coordinated with an infantry attack, could have a devastating effect.’[19] The work of the tunnellers was highly secret and with less than one per cent of soldiers employed in this line of work.[20] The work was also quite dangerous, although the number of deaths does not compare greatly with the amount of soldiers killed aboveground.[21] Thomas had led his company of tunnellers in France and in the second series, when he negotiates with the War Secretary, Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman/Richard McCabe) (incorrectly depicted in the series as Home Secretary), he is held in high regard for his bravery and leadership. 

In the series, we see that in his dreams, Shelby is troubled by a mission when tunnelling a hole, a group of German tunnellers break through from the other side of the wall. In the ensuing chaos, one of the men from Thomas’s company is shot and Thomas himself is injured, while he also kills the German soldier at very close quarters. The show suggests that this death, in such close proximity, greatly troubled Thomas and made him the violent man that he was when he returned to Birmingham. In the first episode, we see Thomas smoking opium from a clay pipe and it is suggested that he uses this to ease the stress of his recurring nightmares. 

Arthur Shelby also suffers for the trauma of the War and this is played out in the second series of Peaky Blinders. While Arthur is seen as volatile and troubled in the first series, his behaviour becomes more erratic and more violent in the second. Part of this can be attributed to his continued mental health problems stemming from his wartime experience, but also it can be attributed to his use of cocaine – a habit which he acquires while working in London. Arthur tries to deal with his anger through boxing, but this leads to an incident where he kills a teenage boy in the ring. One of the younger Shelby brothers tells Thomas:

Arthur, he’s blown a few times lately. Six, seven. It’s like he’s not there in the head. He can’t even hear ‘stop’. Even his own name. And then he cries. 

When confronted by Thomas in the aftermath, Arthur is remorseful and describes the feeling:

It’s like a fucking boat, Tommy. Full of heavy cargo, like coal or iron. Sometimes it slips to one end. And the boat tips. I can feel it slipping. And I can feel the boat tipping. But there ain’t nothing I can do about it. It’s like me fuckin’ head’s just like this fuckin’ black fucking barge! And it just fucking drifts. In and out, in and out. 

Thomas seems very unsympathetic to Arthur’s situation, although he also suffered from post-war trauma, saying:

Well, we’re home along time now, Arthur. We’re home a long time. I thought you were all right… I’ve hand enough. Just fuck off! I’m supposed to treat you like a fucking kid again, eh? Keep you away from guns and fucking rope, is that it? You think I haven’t got enough on! … The war is done! Shut the door on it. Shut the door on it like I did, eh? 

Jessica Meyer has critiqued the show for this, arguing that Thomas ‘should know that the war is never truly over for some men’ and that war trauma cannot easily be overcome.[22]

As well as the Shelby brothers, another one of the Peaky Blinders gang, Danny ‘Whizz-Bang’ Owen (Samuel Edward-Cook), suffers from ‘shellshock’ and probably does so to the worst degree. Danny first appears in the show by coming into the pub while having a psychotic episode. It takes several men to calm him down, while Thomas reassures him:

You’re not an artillery shell, Danny, you’re a man. You’re not a whizz-bang, you’re a human being. You’re alright. You’re alright.

However Danny continues to suffer from these episodes and kills a man in public during one, an Italian man with possible criminal ties. To avoid retaliation, Thomas orchestrates the faking of Danny’s death and sends him to London. However Danny’s freedom is short-lived: he is killed at the end of the first series in gang warfare. Before his death is faked, Danny asks Thomas not bury him in any mud, referring to his experience as a tunneller in the War, and when he does die, Thomas sees that he is buried at the top of a hill, away from the mud. 

Maggie Andrews has proposed that most depictions of returned soldiers in British popular culture (particularly in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War) had been sanitised and those suffering from ‘shellshock’ as ‘purified’ victims.[23] Andrews notes Peaky Blinders as an ‘interesting challenge’ to these depictions, portraying veterans as ‘frequently violent and users of drinks and drugs.’[24]

As Jay Winter has written ‘shellshock’ was used to describe ‘the damage the war had caused to many of the men in uniform, whether or not they were physically disabled.’[25] Most of those depicted in Peaky Blinders are mentally, not physically, ‘damaged’ by the War and could be described as suffering from ‘shellshock’ or some other form of trauma. As depicted in the show, the War irrevocably changed those who went to fight and made them confront the barbarism of humankind – what Clive Emsley has described as the ‘brutalised veteran’.[26] Upon their return, these men found it difficult to fit into ‘normal’ society and found use for their violent pasts within the criminal underworld.[27] 

Post-war Britain, violence and political crisis 

One of aspects of Peaky Blinders that makes it seem much more historically ‘accurate’ than other shows depicting the similar period is that portrays an expansive world, touching on a number of social, economic and political issues facing Britain in the early post-war years. Although relative to mainland Europe, Britain faced a socio-economic and political crisis at the end of the First World War – what Simon Webb has described as a ‘perilous state’ and a ‘precarious situation’.[28] The British economy had almost collapsed after more than four years of war, hundreds of thousands soldiers had returned to Britain and were on the brink of mutiny, the Anglo-Irish War had broken out in January 1919 and a wave of strikes spread across the country, with over 34 million days lost to strike activity in 1919.[29] Although often forgotten nowadays, Britain saw an upsurge in radical political activity, with many in the government and the upper class fearing both Irish Republicanism and Bolshevism. These oft-forgotten political scares of the late 1910s and early 1920s are weaved into the narrative of Peaky Blinders and give the audience a sense of the upheaval that the Shelby brothers returned to at the end of the War, presenting them with both opportunities and threats in their pursuit of wealth, power and legitimacy.  

The shockwaves of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 reverberated intensely, leading to communistic revolts and strikes, as well as anti-communist repression, in a number of British cities, colloquially known as the ‘Red Scare’.[30] These strikes and revolts involved many soldiers who had come back from the War and did not want to return to the pre-war era after four years of brutal warfare. This caused the authorities to be concerned about potential communists, socialists and trade unionists keeping hold of firearms that had been issued during the War, with the Firearms Act 1920 implemented to help prevent any form of armed revolt in Britain.

Freddie Thorne had been part of Thomas Shelby’s tunnelling company in France and had now returned to Birmingham as a communist agitator amongst the workers at the local factory. In his speech trying to get consensus for a strike, Freddie made connections between their experiences on the battlefield and poor conditions experienced in the workplace. Thorne pronounces:

Comrades we’re here today to take a vote on strike action … But before we have a show of hands for that let’s have a show of hands from all those who fought in France, all those who stood side-by-side with your comrades and watched your comrades fall. Raise your hands … The blood shed on Flanders fields, the sweat of your brows! Who reaps the rewards? … Do they stand among us? … Or do they sit at home, comfortable, with a full belly while you scrape to find enough to put shoes on your children’s feet! … And what is the reward they offer you for your sacrifices made? A fucking cut in your wages! That is your reward! Raise a hand, all those who want to strike!

Although Thorne dies in between the first and second series, his wife Ada maintains a connection between herself and local communist activists, including some attached to the new Soviet Embassy in London. The third series plays out against the backdrop of anti-communist hysteria in Britain as the new Labour government recognised the Soviet Union and allowed an embassy to be established in London. This led to the fabrication of the ‘Zinoviev Letter’ and the claim by the right that a communist revolution in Britain was imminent, greatly affecting the outcome of the October 1924 election, won by the Conservatives.[31] A conspiracy of establishment figures (allegedly including Winston Churchill) and a group of white Russian exiles blackmail the Shelbys into bombing a train in Birmingham and blaming the Soviets. This conspiracy, while a factional narrative, is given credence by the fact that the security services and elements connected to the Conservative Party went to extraordinary lengths with the ‘Zinoviev Letter’ to bolster anti-communist sentiment in Britain. 

As much as the British were worried about a communist revolution, they were also very concerned about Irish Republican activists and the potential for political violence on the streets of ‘mainland’ Britain.[32] Between January 1919 and July 1921, the Irish War of Independence raged, with several attacks on British politicians, troops and installations in London, Liverpool and Glasgow during the war. Peaky Blinders is set during this war and the ‘threat’ of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) is ever present. 

One of the major plot lines in the first series of Peaky Blinders is that the Shelby gang have stolen a shipment of machine guns and are seeking to sell them (or use them for their own ambitious plans, as mentioned above). Representatives of the IRA in Birmingham threaten Thomas to hand them over to them, but he is reluctant to do so, but uses this threat as a bargaining chip in his dealings with CI Chester Campbell. A former Loyalist police inspector in Belfast with a reputation for taking on the IRA, Campbell has been sent by Winston Churchill to find the stolen machine guns. With rumours around the criminal underworld of Campbell’s arrival in town, there is debate over whether Campbell will target the Irish or the communists. Campbell, however, declares that he will target both:

If it is IRA Fenians, I will find them and find the guns. If it is Communists, I will find them and find the guns. If it is common criminals, I will find them and find the guns. To me there is no distinction between any of the above.

This reflects the British concerns that both communists and Irish Republicans could potentially get hold of dangerous weaponry in the aftermath of the War and introduced the Firearms Act in 1920 to crack down on their access to arms.[33] Brian Hanley has written that these issues as depicted in the series ‘echo the contemporary fears expressed those such as Sir Henry Wilson who worried that the “Irish question”, if connected to domestic radicalism, would destabilise British society itself’.[34]

Conclusion

Peaky Blinders is loosely based on historical criminal figures that existed in the era following the First World War and depicts the rise (and fall) of these criminal gangs in an era of great socio-economic and political upheaval. Thomas Shelby is driven by his ambition more than an existential crisis, but uses the war as an argument for the need to enjoy life in the present – those who served sacrificed their sanity for King and Country, and on returning, believed that they were owed more than the lower class existence offered to most demobilised soldiers after the War. He also sets out to provide a ‘better life’ for his extended family, as his fellow returned soldiers and criminal associates, believing that his growing criminal empire will, one day, be able to be converted into bourgeois respectability. But following the trope of the tragic anti-hero and the eventual fall of the gangster, the Shelbys’ foothold on respectability is taken away by the conspiracies of the establishment to use them to quash their political foes, the communists and the Irish Republicans. Playing out against the backdrop of post-World War I Britain, with the issues of returned soldiers, the Anglo-Irish War, the fear of Bolshevism and the socio-economic upheaval of the early 1920s, Peaky Blinders is a depiction of a section of British society rarely presented on screen – the fringes of the working class in inter-war Birmingham. 

Various historians, such as Matt Houlbrook, Jessica Meyer and Heather Shore, have argued that while Peaky Blinders can never be deemed entirely historically accurate, its portrayal of Britain in the 1920s is much more faithful than other historical dramas that cover the same period. The show’s grittiness can used by historians as a gateway to talking about the various ‘underworlds’ and histories from below that have been overlooked by conventional historians of the inter-war era – the communists, the Irish Republicans and the criminal figures were present, but remain fringe subjects in traditional historical scholarship. Historians of these liminal communities should embrace Peaky Blinders as a potential tool for engaging in popular perceptions about the post-World War One period. 

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Webb, S. (2016) 1919: Britain’s Year of Revolution (Barnsley: Pen & Sword).

Williams, R. (2013) ‘The Past Isn’t Dead… It’s Deadly: Horror, History, and Locale in Whitechapel’, Journal of British Cinema and Television, 11/1 (December) pp. 68-85.

Winter, J. (2000) ‘Shell-Shock and the Cultural History of the Great War’, Journal of Contemporary History, 35/1, pp. 7-11.

Notes

[1] Gosling-Page 2016. 

[2] This article recognises the wider debate over the relationship between television and depictions of historical events. For some recent interventions in this debate, see: Bell 2011; Williams 2013; Byrne 2014. 

[3] Henry et al (2002): 120. 

[4] Long 2017: 170. 

[5] Henry et al 2002: 120-121; Myers & Grosvenor 2011: 151. 

[6] Long 2017: 171. 

[7] Geoghagen 2014.

[8] Houlbrook 2014.

[9] Shore 2013.

[10] Kingsley Kent 2009: 5. 

[11] Benson 2003: 1-6. 

[12] Shore 2011.

[13] Shore 2011: 475. 

[14] Shore 2011: 474.

[15] Warshow 2008: 584.

[16] Warshow 2008: 584

[17] Thompson 1964: 12; Hobsbawm & Rude, 1973.

[18] Geoghegan 2014.

[19] Varley 1993: 1.

[20] Barton, Doyle & Vandewalle 2004: 11. 

[21] Cave & Robinson 2011: 12. 

[22] Meyer 2014.

[23] Andrews 2017: 57. 

[24] Andrews, ‘Remembrance and the working class soldier hero in austerity Britain’, p. 57. 

[25] Winter 2000: 9. 

[26] See: Emsley 2010. 

[27] Although Heather Shore has shown that most of those involved in violent and organised crime in the 1920s around the bookmaking business had a criminal record prior to 1914.  Shore 2011: 490. 

[28] Webb 2016: 2. 

[29] Cliff & Gluckstein 1986: 81. 

[30] Luff 2016. 

[31] For discussion of the ‘Zinoviev Letter’, see: Bennett 1999; Jeffrey 2010.

[32] See: Noonan 2014.

[33] Shore 2014: 356. 

[34] Hanley 2018: 52. 

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