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English culture is confused, muddled and often borrowed. The purpose of this book is to give the reader a complete grounding in the idiosyncrasies of the English and to pin down the absurdities and warmth of Englishness at its best. Featured in this book are such established English cultural behemoths as the Beatles, Big Ben and the Last Night of the Proms alongside less celebrated quirks such as meat pies and the working man's haven, the allotment. Here we celebrate the bell-ringers and Morris dancers, bowler hats ('the symbol of respectable Englishness') and cardigans ('symbol of staid middle-class solidarity'). We examine the brutality of Punch and Judy and our historic love of fairies, once so much a part of the English psyche that they were described as 'the British religion'. At once fond and irreverent, laudatory and curious, How to Be English might just teach us how to be English once again.
David Boyle is the author of a series of books about current affairs and history, including Blondel's Song, about the imprisonment of Richard the Lionheart, Toward the Setting Sun, about the discovery of America, and Eminent Corporations, about the BBC, Barclays and other great English companies. He has carried out an independent review for the Treasury, he has stood for Parliament, worked for think-tanks and written widely in the UK media. His most recent book was Broke: Who Killed the Middle Classes? (Fourth Estate).