Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



History is not so much what actually happened as how we have received and disseminated what happened. This reception and dissemination take place through a variety of media, many of which are not the purview of the traditional historian. It is in the trifles of daily life that we find the patterns of cultural norms – the ethos of the society that is as unnoticed by that society as the air it breathes. Society makes choices that affect the future based on what has been disseminated, rather than on the original event. This is especially true of such military disasters as the charge of the Light Brigade at the battle of Balaclava in the Crimea on October 25, 1854. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how the event of the charge of the Light Brigade was shaped over time until it became lodged in the British cultural ethos as an icon of heroic and national identity. The dissertation focuses on various types of dissemination: public records, newspaper articles, published personal journals, paintings and lithographs, music, and theatrical entertainments. The written document is composed of five chapters: Chapter One relates the event, the methodology and the importance of the study; Chapter Two examines the accounts of the Charge published immediately following the event, along with the public record of the Parliamentary investigation into the Charge; Chapter Three focuses on the second generation of dissemination through art and music; Chapter Four discusses the representations of the charge of the Light Brigade on the stage, especially through the eyes of one man who rode in the charge and later became an actor, including its satirization by George Bernard Shaw in Arms and the Man; and Chapter Five draws conclusions concerning the perpetuation of the icon of the Light Brigade into this century. A Bibliography and two Appendices will be included providing the text of Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and permissions for use of images within the dissertation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Leigh A. Clemons