There is a persistent myth about the British: that they are a nation of stoics, with stiff upper lips, repressed emotions, and inactive lachrymal glands. Weeping Britannia, the first history of crying in Britain, comprehensively debunks this myth. Discover how and why people have been moved to tears by the arts, from the sentimental paintings and novels of the eighteenth century and the romantic music of the nineteenth, to Hollywood weepies, expressionist art, and pop music in the twentieth century.
Weeping Britannia is simultaneously a museum of tears and a philosophical handbook, using history to shed new light on the changing nature of Britishness over time, as well as the ever-shifting ways in which Britons express and understand their emotional lives. The story that emerges is one in which a previously rich religious and cultural history of producing and interpreting tears was almost completely erased by the rise of a stoical and repressed British empire in the late nineteenth century. Those forgotten philosophies of tears and feeling can now be rediscovered. In the process, readers might perhaps come to view their own tears in a different light, as something more than mere emotional incontinence.