This study is the first treatment devoted to Sir Arthur Helps (1813-1875), who was a prominent figure in the mid-Victorian world. Readers will discover that from the 1840s until his death, Helps was influential and well-kwn to many key figures: Carlyle, Ruskin, Froude and the Queen were among those whom he befriended. In fact, it was almost certainly these relationships which Helps sought to protect by directing that the bulk of his private papers and correspondence be destroyed upon his death. Making use of extensive primary and secondary sources, this book begins the process of recovering this once eminent Victorian. Helps did become a forgotten figure, but, nevertheless, during the course of his career he made table impacts upon many areas of British life. At once a social activist and literary figure, Helps labored to promote social reform while also lifting his pen to educate his readers about the complexity of both societal problems and the difficulties inherent in adequately addressing them. He looked well beyond Britain as well: it would be Helps who authored a four volume history of the Spanish conquest of the New World, while developing unrivaled expertise on the history and practice of slavery in the Americas. As Clerk of the Privy Council, Helps played a decisive role in addressing the problems caused by the 'Cattle Plague' which shocked Britain in the middle of the 1860s. Most important, perhaps, it would be as Clerk that Helps served Queen Victoria t only as an informal confidant, but by making decisions which refashioned the monarchy's public image. The book, then, reintroduces Helps by documenting and assessing his contributions to Victorian Britain.
Stephen Keck is the Head of the Department of International Studies and Associate Professor of History at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. His scholarship reflects a series of broad interests in the cultural and intellectual history of modern Britain and the British empire. In addition to working on Sir Arthur Helps, Keck's research is currently focused on John Ruskin's historical thought, and British writing about Burma and Southeast Asia. His teaching interests are related to British, European and Southeast Asian history, empires and imperialism, historiography and global history. Before joining the American University of Sharjah, he taught at the College of Charleston and the National University of Singapore.