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Peterloo Page and Screen. Professor John Belcham and Dr Jacqueline Riding In Conversation

Historians Jacqueline Riding and John Belchem explore the events and characters behind Mike Leigh’s epic feature film ‘Peterloo’ and the process of transferring history from books and archives to the big screen.

Jacqueline Riding was the production historian and head of research on Mike Leigh’s ‘Peterloo’ (2018) and author of the highly acclaimed tie-in narrative history ‘Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre’ (hardback 2018, paperback May 2019) described by The Guardian as “Gripping … quite simply magnificent: splendidly researched, thoroughly well written, and very difficult to put down.” She is also the author of the award-winning ‘Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion’ (Bloomsbury 2016) and is currently writing a biography of William Hogarth.

John Belchem is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Liverpool, chair of the Society for the Study of Labour History and a member of the Mayor’s Task Force for the Liverpool World Heritage Site. He has published and broadcast extensively on the history, culture and character of his adopted city where he aspires to the title of honorary scouser. The bicentenary of Peterloo, however, has prompted him to return to his initial area of research expertise: popular radicalism in the early 19th century. His biography of ‘Orator’ Hunt: Henry Hunt and English working-class radicalism, first published in 1985, was reprinted in 2012. For those prepared to sit through to the bitter end, you will notice his name in the credits for Mike Leigh’s ‘Peterloo’.

Image: Jacqueline Riding speaking to the “Manchester Female Reformers” during filming of ‘Peterloo’. Photo: Simon Mein © Thin Man Films

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