This is a single-volume history of the mutual relations between the constituent parts of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland). By comparison with the United States, the history of the United Kingdom as an undivided entity has been quite short. This book describes the history of each constituent part, their interaction, and the effect of external events. As soon as British history is seen as an integral part of world (especially European) history, the perspective alters drastically. Until 1803, France was optimistically assumed to be part of the realm. Less than a century elapsed between 1829, when the grant of a very restricted franchise to Catholics made the inclusion of Ireland more than a political fiction, to 1922, when the Irish Free State emerged. Scotland, with England the main constituent of the UK since 1707, has retained its own legal system, administration and established church (the Queen changes her religion each time she passes Berwick). Wales retains a distinctive culture and language, albeit one on an expensive life-support machine.
Frank Welsh was born in Washington, County Durham, and educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He has had a varied career in international business and banking, including service on the boards of nationalised industries and as a member of the Royal Commission on the National Health Service. His books include The Profit of the State, Uneasy City, Building the Trireme, A History of Hong Kong and A History of South Africa. He lives in France and England.