Romantic Moderns

Romantic Moderns

English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper

  1. Alexandra Harris
  • ISBN 9780500251713
  • 22.90 x 15.20 cm
  • Hardback
  • 320pp
  • 79 Illustrations, 48 in colour
  • First published 2010

Winner of the Guardian First Book award 2010

‘The originality of 'Romantic Moderns' is the extraordinary breadth of its focus … a joy to read’ – The Sunday Times
'It would be impossible to over-emphasise what a clever book 'Romantic Moderns' is … not just an important book but a deeply pleasurable one, too'– The Guardian Book of the Week
‘… teems with fascinating detail … Well researched, wide-ranging and generously illustrated, the book contains many delights and surprises’ – The Daily Telegraph
‘… brilliant, delightfully readable … thoroughly invigorating’ – The Financial Times

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Click here to read the first chapter!

While the battles for modern art and society were being fought in France and Spain, it has seemed a betrayal that John Betjeman and John Piper were in love with a provincial world of old churches and tea-shops.

In this beautifully written book Alexandra Harris tells a different story.
In the 1930s and 1940s, artists and writers explored what it meant to be alive in England. Eclectically, passionately, wittily, they showed that ‘the modern’ need not be at war with the past. Constructivists and conservatives could work together, and even the Bauhaus émigré, László Moholy-Nagy, was beguiled into taking photographs for Betjeman’s nostalgic Oxford University Chest.

This modern English renaissance was shared by writers, painters, gardeners, architects, critics, tourists and composers. John Piper, Virginia Woolf, Florence White, Christopher Tunnard, Evelyn Waugh, E. M. Forster and the Sitwells are part of the story, along with Bill Brandt, Graham Sutherland, Eric Ravilious and Cecil Beaton.

Alexandra Harris was born in Sussex in 1981 and was educated at the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute, London. She is the editor (with Lara Feigel) of Modernism on Sea and is currently Lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool. Alexandra Harris was also a winner in the BBC's 'New Generation Thinkers' contest in 2011. See the Guardian online for 28th June 2011
See Alexandra Harris's own website which includes some extracts from the book.