The Act You've Known For All These Years: The Representation of Englishness in Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

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In 1967, the Beatles released their best-selling album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles have been studied in relation to many different topics, but research on the Beatles in relation to national identity or Englishness is scarce. This thesis aims to study the Beatles in relation to Englishness. Building on existing work on national identity, Englishness and Britishness, this research examines how Englishness is represented in Sgt Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band. Based on literature on Englishness and Britishness, four themes of Englishness have been set out with which contemporary reviews, present-day reviews and the lyrics of the album were analysed: nostalgia and the past; humour; rural vs. urban; and manners and traditions. Analysis demonstrates that the contemporary reviewers recognised more characteristics of Englishness, compared to the present-day reviews. Furthermore, analysis of four of the album’s songs demonstrates that characteristics of Englishness are most present in the lyrics cf. the reviews. The outcome of this research shows that Englishness is represented in Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band through different themes of Englishness and that Englishness is definitely present, but not dominant.
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