Edwardian Encounters: ‘The Glimpse’ by Arnold Bennett

'Self-Portrait' by Charles Conder (Tullie House) [Charles Conder is one of several artists mentioned in 'The Glimpse']

‘Self-Portrait’ by Charles Conder (Tullie House) [Charles Conder is one of several artists mentioned in ‘The Glimpse’]

Arnold Bennett, The Glimpse, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1909)

Arnold Bennett has been described as a materialist, a realist, a writer whose novels have ‘a narrative emphasis on the drab, the squalid and the mundane’. [1] He was, however, also capable of dreaming. In one such dream, he writes that he ‘stood by my own dead body and saw the pennies upon my eyes. I cannot remember at this distance of time what the rest of the dream was, but it had to do with the adventures of a soul after death’.[2]

Never one to waste good material, Bennett immediately saw the potential for a story, and in May 1908 he wrote the short story ‘The Glimpse’ about the proprietor of a Staffordshire earthenware factory who has an out-of-body experience whilst lying in bed close to death. Bennett quickly came to the view that the material of the story was capable of being much more fully developed into a full-length novel with sound commercial prospects. Belief in Spiritualism was widespread, so the story of a soul’s adventures at the point of death would not lack a potential audience. Bennett wrote and published his approximately 70,000 word novel The Glimpse in 1909, between his two longer and better-known acknowledged masterpieces The Old Wives’ Tale (1908) and Clayhanger (1910). Continue reading

CFP: The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947 (Edited Collection)

'Line of Life' by William Shackleton, 1915 (Tate)

‘Line of Life’ by William Shackleton, 1915 (Tate)

Proposals are sought for an essay collection entitled ‘The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947′, to be proposed to Ashgate’s new Among the Victorians and the Modernists series. Focusing on the development, popular diffusion, and international networks of British occulture between 1875-1947, the interdisciplinary volume will capitalize on the recent surge of scholarly interest in the late Victorian occult revival by tracing the development of its central and residual manifestations through the fin de siècle and two world wars. We aim to challenge the polarization of Victorian and modernist occult art and practice into discrete expressions of either a nostalgic reaction to the crisis of faith or a radical desire for the new. The collection will also map the affinities between popular and elite varieties of occultism in this period, recognizing the degree to which esoteric activities and texts relied on and borrowed from the exoteric sphere. Continue reading

Edwardian Encounters: The Edwardian Bookplate

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The Edwardian era coincided with “a steady expansion of British reading habits”, with the number of books published and made available to readers – through the establishment of new public libraries, Workers’ Educational Associations and book clubs – showing remarkable advances from the turn of the century to the mid 1910s. [1] Beyond this trend lay an improvement in family incomes and a rising level of literacy, in addition to vast population growth and increase in life expectancy.[2] The fastidiousness and inequality of Victorian Britain resonated strongly with this new Edwardian society, generating a soar in fiction on social realism and the fantasies of romantic adventure, the spirit of childhood and outdoor life.[3] Continue reading

Edwardian Encounters: Richard Strauss in London in 1903

Programme cover for the December 1903 recital

Programme cover for the December 1903 recital

In 1903 one of the world’s leading composers came to London to perform an evening of his own ground-breaking songs.  In today’s parlance this was what could well be called ‘a dream recital’, and yet amazingly it met with a marked detachment from both contemporary critics and the concert-going public as a whole.  Such aloof disinterest, I would say, reveals much about the insular attitudes towards foreign music in Britain at the time.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was born in Munich and by the turn of the last century he had become a composer of Lieder and tone poems of international significance.  In 1894 he had married the German soprano, Pauline de Ahna (1863-1950), and together they formed a formidable performing couple, touring extensively across the whole of Europe.  It was the London-based concert manager, Hugo Görlitz, who organised the visit of the Strausses to Britain at the end of 1903, primarily so that Strauss could conduct a Berlioz Centenary Concert at the Queen’s Hall on 11 December that year.  How enterprising it would be, Görlitz no doubt thought, to arrange for Pauline to sing some of her husband’s sensational songs while they were here. Continue reading

Journal of Victorian Culture Essay Prize

A Birmingham Prize Fight, c.1840

A Birmingham Prize Fight, c.1840

(also open to early Edwardianists!)

ANNOUNCEMENT
Journal of Victorian Culture
Graduate Student Essay Prize 2015 – 16

The Journal of Victorian Culture inaugurated an essay prize competition in 2007, and our past winners include Louise Lee, Tiffany Watt-Smith, Bob Nicholson, and Tom Scriven whose essays appear in issues 13.1 (2008), 15.1 (2010), 17.3 (2012), and 19.1 (2014). We are pleased to announce the next competition. The aim of the JVC Essay Prize is to promote scholarship among postgraduate research students working on the Victorian period in any discipline in the UK and abroad. The essay, which must be no longer than 7000 words in length (including notes), may be on any aspect of Victorian culture appropriate for the scope of the journal (this embraces literature and history, including cultural, intellectual, social, political, economic and religious history; the history of music, science, technology, medicine, theatre and visual culture; historical geography). The editorial board welcomes essays that adopt an interdisciplinary approach to their subject matter. Continue reading

Ten Edwardian Paintings from Charles Rutherston’s Collection

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Charles Lambert Rutherston (1866-1927) was the older brother of the artists William Rothenstein (1872-1945) and Albert Rutherston (1881-1953). After training at Bradford’s Technical College and showing some talent as an artist, Charles followed his father into the textile industry. A successful businessman, he remained a keen supporter of the arts and collected widely, from Chinese bronzes to contemporary prints. Rutherston played a key role in the careers of many young artists – including Gwen and Augustus John, Paul Nash, Wyndham Lewis and Henry Moore  – as well as being the leading patron of his brother William. Wyndham Lewis noted that Rutherston was one of the few men he allowed into his studio: ‘For him I left the gate ajar. This was not only because one naturally likes people who came “collecting” the works of one’s hands, but because he was one of the pleasantest and least affected people of my acquaintance’. Continue reading

Ten Edwardian Paintings from the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

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The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, rather like Bradford’s Cartwright Hall Gallery, is very much a product of the Edwardian Era. Designed by Frederick Wills and funded by the tobacco magnate Sir William Wills, building started in 1901 and was completed in 1906. The gallery’s Edwardian origins are currently brought to the fore by the display of two major paintings in the foyer: Ernest Board’s historical re-enactment of Italian explorer John Cabot’s departure from Bristol in the fifteenth century (painted in 1906), and Roderick MacKenzie’s monumental depiction of the 1903 Delhi Durbar. A selection of Victorian and Edwardian paintings (including Talmage’s Mackerel Shawl) are currently on display elsewhere in the gallery. Continue reading