From Cranford and Pooter – the middle-class snob novel ploughed on through Orwell – Kingsley Amis – and even Margaret Drabble.
But where is it now?
The tradition of minutely particularised middle-class interiors dominated British literature for nearly a century and a half and can still be seen at work today.
One of its abiding characteristics was an ability to colonise entire social landscapes that had previously existed some way beneath its original focus.
Most of HG Wells’s early social-realist fiction can be seen as studies in what might be called the search for lower-middle-class identity.
They are full of humble characters striving desperately to maintain their social positions and convince themselves of their ascendancy over the people around them – a struggle that nearly always involves them in a complicated balancing act of disdaining those on the upper rungs of the social ladder –
– while aiming endless volleys of mockery at those who might be supposed to occupy the echelons below.