Leeds Beckett University
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Food and Northern Identities in the mid-Nineteenth Century

posted on 2023-01-05, 11:58 authored by Gillian Eastabrook
This dissertation examines two related issues: how food and its consumption were used by northerners and by others to describe and reinforce northern English identities in the mid-nineteenth century; and how this can be related to other aspects of identity and place. It brings together evidence from varied sources to build on existing descriptive work about food in and of the North in the nineteenth century. Alongside this, it draws on ideas about the North and northernness previously articulated in other contexts and largely in relation to later periods, complementing them with approaches to the study of food and identity more broadly. It concludes that in the discourse relating to food, its consumption, and its lack, we can already see clear signs in this period of the development of the northern identities that had been observed later in the century. The early symbolism of the North, linked to differences in staple grains and seen for example by Celia Fiennes in the seventeenth century, remained and developed further. In both the Hungry Forties and the Lancashire Cotton Famine the North was often identified as a place of hunger and poverty. However plenty, prosperity and civic pride were seen in both the way northernness was performed by its people, and the way the North was perceived from elsewhere. While some of these features relate to the North as a whole, pan-regional feeling was not always well developed and more local northern identities could be seen in many ways, from the preference of working women who had migrated within the North for the local oatcakes they had learned to make at their mothers’ knees, to the civic pride of elite men in their city expressed at banquets. So in this period, and through the lens of food, we can see a proto-northernness, the beginnings of the northern identity that has been noted in relation to other aspects of elite and popular culture in the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.


Qualification name

  • MRes


Rich, Rachel ; Morgan, Simon

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Masters


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

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