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Head of Zeus
Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre by Jacqueline Riding, foreword by Mike Leigh

The story of the Peterloo massacre, a defining moment in the history of British democracy, told with passion and authority.

'A superb account of one of the defining moments in modern British history' Tristram Hunt.

'Peterloo is one of the greatest scandals of British political history ... Jacqueline Riding tells this tragic story with mesmerising skill' John Bew.

'Fast-paced and full of fascinating detail' Tim Clayton.

On a hot late summer's day, a crowd of 60,000 gathered in St Peter's Field. They came from all over Lancashire – ordinary working-class men, women and children – walking to the sound of hymns and folk songs, wearing their best clothes and holding silk banners aloft. Their mood was happy, their purpose wholly serious: to demand fundamental reform of a corrupt electoral system.

By the end of the day fifteen people, including two women and a child, were dead or dying and 650 injured, hacked down by drunken yeomanry after local magistrates panicked at the size of the crowd. Four years after defeating the 'tyrant' Bonaparte at Waterloo, the British state had turned its forces against its own people as they peaceably exercised their time-honoured liberties. As well as describing the events of 16 August in shattering detail, Jacqueline Riding evokes the febrile state of England in the late 1810s, paints a memorable portrait of the reform movement and its charismatic leaders, and assesses the political legacy of the massacre to the present day.

As fast-paced and powerful as it is rigorously researched, Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre adds significantly to our understanding of a tragic staging-post on Britain's journey to full democracy.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Modern History
18 Oct 2018 * 400pp * £5.99 * 9781786695826
'A superb account of one of the defining moments in modern British history'
Tristram Hunt
'Peterloo is one of the greatest scandals of British political history ... Jacqueline Riding tells this tragic story with mesmerising skill'
John Bew, author of Citizen Clem
'Fast-paced and full of fascinating detail'
Tim Clayton, author of Waterloo
'Careful, closely researched ... A fascinating and moving story ... Riding does a fine job of putting the event into context'
Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
'Quite simply magnificent: splendidly researched, thoroughly well written, and very difficult to put down'
John Barrell, Guardian
'Riding lets the evidence speak for itself, and in doing so produces a cool and even-handed indictment of the authorities and the soldiers at St Peter's Field that is far more devastating than any emotional rant ... Cleverly structured ... The sequence of events that Riding lays out in forensic details is shocking ... The Peterloo story is one that deserves to be remembered as a less than glorious chapter in our island history. No one has told it better'
Saul David, Literary Review
'Vivid, engrossing and well-researched ... An evocative account ... Gripping and intellectually robust ... '[Mike Leigh's] film and Riding's excellent accompanying book will rightly heighten public awareness of the events of 16 August 1819'
Ted Vallance, BBC History Magazine
The best single account of the massacre of August 1819. A brilliant piece of historical research that sets the event in the wider political and social context and which brings to life the tragic events of August 16. This is the book to turn to for anyone interested in learning what happened in Manchester on that day and why Peterloo continues to resonate today'
Michael Powell, Chetham's Library
'Clear-minded and readable ... Riding reprints contemporary satirical cartoons between her chapters which remind us of the rich radical visual culture of this period and its importance to the growth of democratic thinking'
'Riding's academic but highly readable account of the event, the lead up to and the aftermath of the massacre, is a richly detailed and comprehensive account. Both energetic and totally engaging, Peterloo is also insightful ... Riding has a knack for finding the little telling details that make this story very human'
Nudge Book
'The story of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, when 15 people were killed at a protest meeting demanding the vote for all'
Choice December Round Up
'Sheds light on what really happened at the Peterloo Massacre on that fateful day in 1819 ... This new book offers a comprehensive and accurate history of one of the great outrages of the 19th Century and will answer many questions raised by the new feature film, directed by Mike Leigh'
This is England
'The story of a moment of terrible repression by the few of the many, and we shouldn't be afraid of saying that the working-class demonstrators were in the right'
London Review of Books
'Accessible to a wide readership ... [Riding's] thoroughness highlights some aspects of the events leading up to Peterloo, which could easily remain hidden'
Methodist Recorder
'A comprehensive history ... Manages to be both academic and entertaining'
Liberal Democrat Voice
'A magnificent study of the 1819 St Peter's Field sabre attack shows the need not to neglect working-class history'
'Highly readable'
Church Times
'An excellent account of the massacre'
'Ahead of Mike Leigh's 2018 film, a heartfelt reconstruction of the uprising, Jacqueline Riding produced this book to accompany the film's cinema release'
Financial Times
'Sympathetic and well-written ... A stimulating and readable account and her book is to be warmly welcomed'
NW Labour History Journal
Jacqueline Riding
Jacqueline Riding
Jacqueline Riding is the author of Jacobites: A New History of the '45 Rebellion. Former curator of the Palace of Westminster and Director of the Handel House Museum, she is a historical adviser on feature films, including Mike Leigh's Mr Turner and Peterloo.