Hargreaves, John A. (2012) Yorkshire Luddism : image and reality 1812-2012. The Local Historian, 42 (3). ISSN 0024-5585

The Yorkshire historian John Hargreaves has played a prominent role in the commemoration of the bicentenary of the Luddite unrest of 1812. In this article he focuses on a single image, very widely used to illustrate the events of that year, which purports to show Luddites engaged in smashing machines. He begins by reviewing the many publications and other sources, and television programmes, in which it has appeared and which use it as the archetypal illustration of the unrest. The article then challenges the provenance of the image, showing how it cannot possibly be contemporary because the machine shown is a Jacquard loom, and these were not used in Britain until the 1820s at the earliest. Hargreaves then demonstrates that the image is a fabrication, because the background first appeared in the Penny Magazine in January 1844. The figures were clearly superimposed upon this image later in the nineteenth century. The final section of the article places this in the context of wider misunderstandings and falsehoods about Luddism and its circumstances, and argues that these have created much confusion and seriously impeded general historical enquiry as well as providing misleading evidence for Luddism itself