Afternoon tea, the Women's Institute, Mrs Beeton, department stores, suburbia, seaside holidays and cycling clubs - all preserves of the great middle class. But where did the middle classes come from? And what makes a person middle class today? Although the term 'middle class' is part of our everyday language, the middle class has not been a feature of the British social scene from time immemorial. Drawing on the memories and life stories of individuals and families, as well as the words of distinguished historians and social commentators, this fascinating portrait of a people traces the roots of middle-class values in Victorian England through to the great educational reforms of the twentieth century. Panoramic and personal, this book provides a compelling picture of this influential social group and looks at what their future might be.