Monthly Archives: June 2013

Edwardian Encounters: ‘Happy Houses’ by Mary Ansell

Mary Ansell

Mary Ansell

Mary Ansell, Happy Houses (1912)

Mary Ansell (1868-1950) published three books in her lifetime: The Happy Garden and Happy Houses, both in 1912; and Dogs and Men in 1924. The former two were written three years after she had left her writer-husband, J.M. Barrie, for Gilbert Cannan, an up-and-coming novelist fifteen years her junior.  The adventure was not, in the end, a happy one: Gilbert left her in 1916 for nineteen year-old Gwen Wilson, and she was granted a judicial separation in 1918. But 1912 found Ansell in the midst of beginning the world anew, and her publications of this year express this sense of self-regeneration.

The Happy Garden and Happy Houses are repetitive and (to the critically minded) self-indulgent, yet there is much in them to interest and engage. The former is a tour of her garden at Black Lake Cottage in Surrey, given to a fictional friend who she advises on how best to appoint a country garden. The latter extends this advice to home decoration, and introduces a fuller background of fictional characters and episodes: so much so that the book approached the condition of a novel. Continue reading

Futurism and the Past

Umberto Boccioni, 'Synthesis of Human Dynamism', 1913, destroyed

Umberto Boccioni, ‘Synthesis of Human Dynamism’, 1913, destroyed

‘Futurism and the Past’ is a virtual exhibition created by Rosalind McKever in association with the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. The exhibition traces ‘Futurism’s engagement with different periods, from classical art, through Byzantium, to the early Renaissance of Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca, the High Renaissance of Leonardo and Michelangelo, and the Baroque. The connections with the art of the past reveal a different side to Futurism and encourage us to think differently about its bombastic manifestos and its relationship with art history’.

Dr McKever will be speaking about the exhibition at the following event: Continue reading

Review: A Cultural History of the 1905 Aliens Act

William Rothenstein, 'Aliens at Prayer', 1905

William Rothenstein, ‘Aliens at Prayer’, 1905

David Glover, Literature, Immigration, and Diaspora in Fin-de-Siècle England: A Cultural History of the 1905 Aliens Act (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
ISBN: 9781107022812

The Edwardian era, as noted in the catalogue to the recent exhibition Edwardian Opulence, witnessed a ‘colossal torrent of political, social, economic, and cultural change’. Though some of these changes were reflected in the visual examples selected for the exhibition – such as John Byam Shaw’s haunting canvas The Boer War (1900) – other issues, such as immigration, were overlooked. Yet it was during the Edwardian period that the first modern law to restrict immigration into Britain was passed. The 1905 Aliens Act was a highly significant event in British history (one contemporary referred to it as a ‘revolution in national policy’), and is the subject of a recent study by the literary scholar, David Glover.

Though the Aliens Act was ostensibly designed to restrict the influx of all ‘undesirable aliens’, regardless of nationality or cultural background, it was in essence a response to a particular crisis: the substantial growth of Jewish immigrants to Britain following the Russian pogroms of the 1880s and early 1900s. In British culture, the so-called ‘alien’, argues Glover, was almost indistinguishable from ‘the Jew’, and the two must be considered together. In this sense, David Glover’s book follows on from several excellent studies of Jewish immigration and its representations, most notably ‘The Jew’ in late-Victorian and Edwardian culture: between the East End and East Africa (Palgrave MacMillan 2009). Continue reading

CFP: Empire in Peril



Public Lecture & Interdisciplinary Workshop Queen Mary, University of London, 14-15 November 2013

Speakers: Bernard Porter (Newcastle, UK) • Nicholas Hiley (Kent, UK) • Michael Matin (Warren-Wilson, US) • Jan Rueger (Birkbeck, UK) • Matthew Seligmann (Brunel, UK)

This year marks the first centenary of one of the most popular examples of the invasion-scare genre: Saki’s (H.H. Munro) When William Came (1913). Saki’s famous account imagines the defeat of Britain at the hand of an invading German army. The cultural and political concerns of Edwardian Britain lay at the heart of the novel’s masochistic narrative: degeneration, the rise of modernity, militarism, national security, decadence, germanophobia, a battle for global hegemony, and imperial decline. As such, the narrative reflects the general convergence of popular politics, the public and the press, which coalesced around a repertoire of anxieties, embodied in the trope of the ‘German Menace’ and foreign intrigues in the metropole and in the empire.

The aim of this workshop is to facilitate a greater integration of the study of invasion-scares and popular politics at the intersection of divergent approaches. It is suggested that a more thorough investigation of the interconnectedness of press, politics and popular culture is essential to furthering our understanding of key aspects of Edwardian society and British identity on the eve of the Great War. Responding to a recent surge of interest in the pre-war period, this workshop will stimulate debate and reflection on the latest research in these areas, and identify avenues for further study, based upon a broader and more inclusive approach to historical analysis. Continue reading

Edwardian Encounters / Book Reviews

'Interior, Gilr Reading' by Mary McEvoy, 1901

‘Interior, Girl Reading’ by Mary McEvoy, 1901

In direct response to conference feedback the network is looking to expand its web-site to include new and expanded features. Over the next few months, we intend to publish more book and exhibition reviews, and to launch a series of essays under the title ‘Edwardian Encounters’.

‘Edwardian Encounters’ will consist of short essays (no more than 1, 000 words) on a single text (novel, poem, play, essay) or object (painting, building, sculpture) from the ‘long Edwardian Era’ (1895-1914).

The aim of the series is to draw attention to works that are less well-known, and to shed light on current research. Researchers are encouraged to stage their discussion in any way they choose, from personal encounters to new theoretical perspectives. We also encourage researchers to work outside of their discipline (i.e. literary scholars writing about art works, and vice versa). This is a perfect opportunity to try out new ideas on scholars in your field, and to get involved in the network. All ‘Edwardian Encounters’ will be published on this web-site.

If you are interested in contributing an essay to the series, or know of a book/exhibition you would like to review, please e-mail us at

CFP: Katherine Mansfield and her Circle


Katherine Mansfield and her Circle

23 November 2013 at Birkbeck, University of London

Katherine Mansfield’s first collection of stories, In a German Pension, was published in 1911. Hosted by the Katherine Mansfield Society, in association with Birkbeck University of London, this exciting one-day international symposium, the first of its kind, will bring together emerging modernist scholars to present and discuss new research relating to both Mansfield and her contemporaries. We are delighted to announce our keynote speaker for the day will be Dr Andrew Harrison, Director of the D. H. Lawrence Research Centre, University of Nottingham.

Proposals for 15-minute papers are invited from postgraduates. Directions might include Continue reading

CFP: Beyond the Victorian and Modernist Divide


Beyond the Victorian and Modernist Divide

International Conference

March, 27-28 2014, Rouen University

Organisation: Anne Besnault-Levita and Anne-Florence Gillard Estrada

Keynote speakers:
Professor Michael Bentley, University of St. Andrews
Professor Melba Cuddy-Keane, University of Toronto

Ezra Pound’s injunction to “make it new!” or Virginia Woolf’s “on or about 1910” statement have long been used in order no support a version of modernism as a strictly aesthetic revolution — or crisis — implying an essential break with Victorian art, culture and ideology. In the last decade, however, the crucial transition between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been variously reassessed. In the wake of the new modernist studies and of the recent revaluations of the Victorian period, a growing body of scholarship now challenges traditional periodisation by examining the existence of overlaps and unexplored continuities between the Victorians, the post-Victorians and the modernists. Once separated by a critical and cultural break, Victorian and modernist scholars have become preoccupied with a similar search for cultural and aesthetic complexities that make it possible to move beyond doxic discourses and fixed dichotomies: the past and the present, outer life and inner life, materiality and spirituality, tradition and innovation, ideology and aesthetics. Continue reading