Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Between Two Worlds is an epic story teeming with people on the move, making decisions, indulging or resisting their desires and dreams.

In the seventeenth century over a third of a million men, women, and children left England’s shores for America. Some were explorers and merchants, others soldiers and missionaries; many were fugitives from poverty and persecution. All, in their own way, were adventurers, risking their lives and fortunes to make something of themselves overseas. They irrevocably changed the land and indigenous peoples they encountered – and their new world changed them.

But that was only half the story. The plantations established from Maine to the Caribbean needed support at home, especially money and royal endorsement, which made adventurers of English investors and monarchs, too. Attitudes to America were crucial, and evolved positively and negatively as colonies grew in size, prosperity, and self-confidence.

Meanwhile, colonists were forced to rethink their beloved mother country. Alongside new ideas emerging from the American wilderness, they pondered England’s traditions and achievements, its problems and uncertain future in an age of war and revolution. They had exported legal and economic practices, preserved cultural habits, and defended their liberty as freeborn subjects. And yet their unique experiences, combined with increasing imperial ambition at home, meant that the harder they clung to Englishness the more a new identity emerged.

Using hundreds of letters, journals, reports, pamphlets, and contemporary books, Between Two Worlds recreates this fascinating transatlantic history – one that has often been neglected or misunderstood on both sides of the Atlantic.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages484
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-967296-7
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2014

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