A ‘Greater Britain’: the Creation of an Imperial Landscape, 1880-1914
thesisposted on 27.09.2013, 09:46 by Robyn Elizabeth Cooper
This thesis examines the representation of the settler societies of the British Empire during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa were represented as a distinct part of the Empire, united by the idea that these parts of the Empire were ‘more British’ than the rest, and, had a shared heritage and culture and a predominant British settler population. It was represented as a landscape of opportunity built on layers of representations in the sources of the period from advertisements and panoramas to travel accounts and emigration literature. The settler societies were represented as a ‘Greater Britain’ or ‘Better Britains’, an imagining of the settler societies based on what the British wanted for themselves rather than as a true representation of four parts of the Empire. The notion of ‘Better Britains’ delves into British ideas of their past, present and future. If they were ‘better’, what were they improving on? What qualities and aspects of society were included and excluded? It was an idealised image but also flexible, a malleable landscape where the British could live out desires. Opportunity was found in the land, resources and climate, but also within the modernity of the cities and ideas of social advancement and of the freedom of the frontier.