I don’t know how it started, I just assume it’s part of my genetic composition, not unlike having hazel eyes or being right handed. It presented itself early in life, when I had the Union Jack and the St. Andrew’s Cross flags on my bedroom wall when other kids had Hulk Hogan or the Smurfs. Then there was the second grade when I decided to affect a British accent for some unknown reason. Yes, for whatever reason I have always known that I am an Anglophile.
This love of everything British continued throughout my adolescence, helped determine my college coursework and, while it does not influence me professionally, that love is still there. I know from talking with friends and those in the social media universe that I am not alone, many Americans and indeed people from around the world share this Anglophilia, the likes of which does not exist for any other country on the planet. But from whence comes this love of those pasty, sarcastic peoples of the North Atlantic?
From an American point of view, the source is pretty easy to identify. We began as a British colony and our language and many of our social traditions come from the United Kingdom. We share these close cultural bonds with no other country, so it is natural I suppose for many of us to be Anglophiles. But it’s more than just a general feeling of goodwill, many Americans are outright fanatical in their love of all things British.
Throughout college, my studies were concentrated on International Relations with a focus on, wait for it, English and Scottish politics and culture. Following graduation, rather than plan a massive, around the world trip, I opted instead to spend six weeks backpacking around England and Scotland.
Looking at a map, it would seem that six weeks for a relatively small nation would be more than enough time. In meeting all of my expectations however, I quickly learned that a lifetime wouldn’t be ample time to truly explore every inch of the British Isles.
One evening, while staying with friends in London (I was couch surfing before it was trendy) I attended a garden party when the subject of Anglophilia arose. I stood there, slowly drinking my Pimm’s, when someone brought up the subject of how pathetic Americans were when they tried to claim somewhat tenuous ties to their Motherland. Perhaps I had too many of the strange cocktails, but he seemed to be saying that Americans were regretful about the Revolution.
Could it be that more than 200 years later, there were still hard feelings? What, if anything, did the average Briton know about the American Revolution?
Donning my deerstalker hat and pipe in hand, I decided to investigate. Granted, everything I learned was anecdotal in nature; I did not interview the Minister of Education on the topic, but I did learn a lot about perceptions. I soon learned that the average Briton knew next to nothing about the American Revolution, except what they had seen in movies. The War was not included in standard educational materials except in passing. Rather, it was merely discussed as a continuation of the Seven Years War and a lead-in to the great contest with France.
Perhaps it’s my American ego, but I thought the Revolution would have warranted at least a chapter, or maybe even a project requiring dioramas and posters to be made. It would seem that there is a fundamental lack of understanding about the events leading up to the break from Mother England, a decidedly crucial event in the histories of both countries and indeed the world.
I won’t lie and say that Americans know anything about British history, I’d be shocked if a majority could even place the UK on a map. But what is instilled into the reluctant minds of every schoolchild are the reasons for the Revolution and the war itself, albeit it from a decidedly American perspective. I wouldn’t expect such a high level of detail to happen in the primary schools of our British cousins, but a mention would be nice.
Much is made of the special relationship between the United States and Britain, and deservedly so. There is no other country in the world with which we are as close to socially, politically, militarily and historically as Britain. I would therefore encourage our British friends to spend a little time researching some of the early years of American history to better understand our perspective of this unique relationship. It comes not from a sense of longing at the loss of the British Empire, but rather a sense of admiration of and kinship with the country of our origin.
In the meantime, I will continue paying outrageous sums in the gourmet food mart for HP sauce, digestive biscuits and pints of Boddingtons to enjoy every Monday while watching Jeremy Clarkson test the latest super car. Cheers!
24 thoughts on “Confessions of an Anglophile”
Even though there are some differences, I find that the bond between Americans, Brits, Kiwis, Aussies, & Canadians is truly special, and it all goes back to our common heritage.
You know what is an embarrassment?
American Top Gear.
We DVR BBC America’s syndication of the original. <3
we always watch the original, and sometimes the US version but it’s barely watchable. LOL Thank goodness for BBC America!
Here here. I’m unabashedly an Anglophile, with a specific emphasis on Scotland. More than anything it’s the history that grounds my love of the place. The whisky, music, and scenery are just heaping piles of frosting on the cake.
Awww I can’t get over how adorable “young Loper” is hahaha. I can relate, I’m like this with the Latin Culture. Can’t get enough!
LOL, thanks, that was a long time ago though :)
Malaysia was under the British reign before so I have an indescribable bond with Brits! love their sexy accents!! :)
I was quite the anglophile before my first trip to London. Then I realized England has its flaws just like everyone else. It’s kind of disappointing to know that the Revolutionary War doesn’t make the radar of most Brits, though. Because if it were studied in school or museums or whatnot, I’d want to know what their take on it is. That’s always interesting.
As a brit, I have spent time in the USA.. 6 months in Georgia and Florida.
I know what you mean about an affinity with the country/people, I found the people of the USA to be the most lovely people I could wish to meet.
Kind, warm, accepting, genuinely friendly and the most hospitable nation I have ever met
Your levels of service to your customer is outstanding, even in your jo average store serving up chips (no sorry I mean french fries) the experience was service with a smile.
(I know its not like this everywhere.. but this was MY experience.
A profound memory in my last day there was meeting a young latino girl in the car hire office somewhere near Miami.
She was DESPERATE to learn english, have an english accent, go to england because she felt she would have a much better life, she hated being latino and wished she had been born british.
I pointed her in the direction of the BBC, to watch programmes, to listen to english spoken on the radio via the internet and to send away for some language products.
She was eternally grateful and I wonder what ever happened to her.
I asked her why she felt this way and she said speaking english was the greatest thing she could ever do and in the company of someone english she felt safe and as though they were in contrl.
I found this odd but it was mentioned a few times, the hairdresser I used wanted me to come and speak english to her? She was american with a southern accent, so we had quite a time “talking” to each other.
Now give me that Georgia accent every time.. I knew I was in the states then
I hope our friendships continue and we continue to learn from each other and laugh at the way one says I am using the lift.. and the other says not I am going to take elevator.
You both end up at the same destination.
I do get you though, about the food. I hate tea but I found myself heading for a packet of imported tetley tea bags to remind of home.. never mind the cost
I am afraid I hated your instant coffee and your sliced bread.. you need gold blend and hovis!
What a lovely story, thank you so much for sharing this. Our unique relationship is indeed quite special and I love learning from my UK friends. And you can have the instant coffee :)
I’m not a regular visitor to this site, having just stumbled upon it, but as a Brit, I’d like to offer the following observation.
It is true that we generally only touch on the Revolution at school – I’m pretty sure my history teacher covered it in one or two hours – but we also pretty much only touch on 90% of our own history, let alone those of the former colonies. Kids from the age of 11 to 14 have maybe onr or two hours a week of history lessons, and only those who choose to take History as an option will continue with four to five hours a week from 14 to 16, and if very interested from 16 to 18 and then onto University. So for the vast majority of children the only history they are exposed to is the few hundred hours from 11 to 14, and they try and cover everything from Bronze Age Britain up to WWII in those few hours, and post 14 history tends to specialise in topics such as Neolithic, Dark Ages and modern history.
So it’s nothing personal, its just the effect of cramming 3000 years of history in to a couple of hundred hours of teaching. Most kids know you used to be a British colony, that you’re not any more and that you turned up around half-time during WWII to help us defeat the Nazis.
I’ve worked for a couple of US based companies and like Jackie above was always taken with your general level of politeness and willingness to go the extra mile to get things done. I also live in an area on the the east coast that has a huge number of active and ex-WWII USAF air bases, so grew up listening to tales from parents and grand-parents of them watching american bomber streams head out to sea and being given gifts of chocolate by American airmen on furlow, so in this part of the country at least we still remember you fondly.
Paul, welcome to the site and thank you for the perspective. I really appreciate it. No hard feelings on my end, was just pointing out something that I found/find odd. But maybe that’s just because of my own point of view. :)
Thanks again for the well written and thought out comments – I hope you’ll stop by again soon!
I know EXACTLY what you mean! I have no earthly idea why, but for years I’ve had a passion (*ehem*, obsession) with all things English. It goes so far that it’s made me consider eating blood pudding, just because it’s English. Is there a cure? I’m not sure I want there to be.
Ha, when I first traveled to England I had blood pudding many times at breakfast without realizing what it was. Not bad actually.
It was never in my life’s plan to end up in England, but here I am. I’ve been here all of 16 days and am constantly amazed by everything. Describing me as an anglophile would have been a wild misnomer at any other point in my life, but what do you do when your British fiancée wants to go home?
I’ve started blogging about my experiences here, but I could *really* use some input from genuine anglophiles. If anyone has a spare moment or questions they’d like answered about living a normal life in the English countryside, please don’t hesitate to stop by and/or drop me a line. http://ukate.wordpress.com/
Thanks to Matt the Loper – reading encouraging posts like these make me feel like there is hope for me in England after all. :)
Aw thanks and good luck! How exciting for you. Can’t wait to read along as you discover the fun quirks of English culture.
Hey Matt, I enjoyed this one! Have you ever gone to former British colonies to see if they’ve got any of the Englishness you love? It’s too hot for deerstalker hats in Malaysia but we’ve got Tetley, Marmite, scones and crumpets :)
What a well written, thoughtful essay! I, too, am an Anglophile and have often tried to analyze my “Anglophilia.” It’s an interesting phenomenon. I do think that many people, the world over, develop an obsession with a country other than their own…but there aren’t labels for such obsessions as there is for the Anglophile. My nephew, for instance, is obsessed with Japan and calls himself a “Japanophile.” However, “Japanophile” is not in any standard dictionary as “Anglophile” is, so it seems less real. It’s said that “language shapes our reality,” and I think this lack of words to describe obsessions with other countries and cultures (besides Britain) leads us to believe that being an Anglophile is maybe more singular than it actually is. We can coin words–as my nephew did–but they so rarely take hold, let alone get included in updated dictionaries!
I stumbled across this while trying to learn more about Anglophilia and similar romanticised notions that countries have of each other. I’m not sure I understand things any better now, but I was struck by your point. Having only had a vague idea that Americans set great store by their battle for independence, I have three questions:
Why did you expect us to learn about this in particular? The British Empire was only a short period in our history, we had a lot of colonies and we don’t really learn enough about any of them.
What would we gain from it, other than a deeper understanding of American attitudes?
What are the important bits to know?
I’m also interested in what you are taught in schools and about the stereotypes that exist about Britain in the USA. We share a common language and partial history but we are worlds apart in some ways.
Us red coats do get tought about the war of independance and some of us do celebrate the 4th of July although not to the extent of you guys.
I recently read an interview with the British documentary maker Louis Theroux in which he stated that he is suspicious of American Anglophiles and alluded to the tendency to romanticize the UK. Most – though not all – American Anglophiles whom I have known have been unutterable snobs who cherry-pick, through a rose-tinted lense, certain aspects of UK culture (including the ridiculously stereotypical) and adopt and affect certain British interests, traits, tastes, customs and so forth as a device to be superior and better than the white trash, redneck fellow Yanks around you and to project that image of yourselves outward.There is an unmistakeable snobbery and classism underlying so much ‘Anglophilia’ along with a staggering ignorance of the realness – and indeed the soul – of the country and people that you profess to love. And that is really sad.
‘Pasty-faced, sarcastic peoples…’ Not all British people are pasty-faced. Because a very large proportion of British people are – SHOCK! HORROR! – not white.
We don’t get a lot of Sunshine in the UK , we do, however, get plenty rain. So unless you belong to an ethnic minority or spend hours on sun beds, in which case your more of an orange colour, we are mostly pasty face. Most of us do have nice teeth though.
I’m British and have a love for America and Americans, I do know about the revolutionary war and think the British behaved disgracefully but you were very naughty in 1812. Alls forgiven now though, I think the bond between us now is very tight, not forgetting our Australian and Canadian brothers. I have visited America on several occasions and have felt very welcome.
I am part Hispanic and a big anglophile, I love England from a young age and all my life people say I act like a Lord or something lol, in 98 I visit the UK loved it I swear they are the coolest people when it comes to fashion. I man love spanish Hispanic culture but I never master spanish probably cause, I have and attachments to England like all us yanks do, I love bbc documentry how England but off their of Africa and how they the truth of their history. Not fan of all of it but they are open unlike America, they don’t have the race issue like we do. So to the land where magna Carta started cheerio old chaps long live the UK and USA.
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