The History of Cambridge's University Liberals

I've got an article out in the new issue of the Journal of Liberal History, on "Cambridge University Liberal Club, 1886-1916: A Study in Early University Political Organistion". 

Over a decade ago, I chaired the successor society to the Cambridge Liberals; and longer ago than I care to admit, I promised I'd write them an official history. It's not quite as arcane and self-serving a topic as might might seem; I've always been interested in the history of youth politics; and Cambridge's Liberals are one of the oldest university political societies in the UK, trialling many of the campaign techniques now taken for granted, from their pre-dating the Edwardian "society boom" by 20 years to harness student canvassers, to the early practice of "community politics" by such pioneers as Bernard Greaves in 1960s Cambridge. And it's a fairly star-studded cast of characters, with Liberals from John Maynard Keynes to the rather more improbable figure of Chariots of Fire's Harold Abrahams. Accordingly, I felt (and still do) that there's a really interesting story to tell here about how UK liberal politics evolved in its distinctive form in the twentieth century, and the surprising amount of influence exerted by a relatively small but well-connected group through the decades. 

I've still spectacularly failed to complete the manuscript of this history of Cambridge's Liberal Club - though I retain all my notes, I've written about half of it, and I still hope to complete it some day. What was originally envisioned as a short pamphlet is shaping up to be a 150-page book with detailed appendices; and it's a big, detailed project only likely to ever be of interest to a relatively small number of people. So it's slipped by the wayside in favour of some of my other work. 

Nonetheless, I thought the opening chapter, chronicling the first thirty years, had enough original "meat" in it to stand on its own two feat and be worth adapting into a standalone article, which is what I've written up for the JLH