Monthly Archives: July 2013

CFP: Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes



Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes

History is not like a bus-line on which the vehicle changes all its passengers and crew whenever it gets to the point marking its terminus. Nevertheless, if there are dates which are more than conveniences for the purposes of periodisation, August 1914 is one of them. (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire)

At the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, how useful is it to think about the Edwardian era as ending decisively in 1914? Indeed, how helpful have conventional boundaries of periodisation been in our understanding of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century British culture?

Rather than viewing ‘the Edwardian’ as a fixed and isolated historic moment, this conference seeks to open up new ways of thinking about the premonitions and echoes of the Edwardian age. Just as the 1880s and 1890s can be interpreted as ‘proto-Edwardian’, so too the Edwardians can be seen to have anticipated many issues and debates of the present day, from coalition governments to trade unions, immigration acts to women’s rights.

We invite papers on any aspect of British culture, based on varied temporal definitions of the ‘Edwardian period’.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

•           Proto-Edwardians: how far back can we trace the spirit of the Edwardian age? The Victorians? The Regency? Beyond?

•           21st Century Edwardians: to what extent have the social reforms, political activities and cultural developments of the Edwardian era shaped contemporary society?

•           Between Two Wars: what is the relationship between war and the Edwardians? How significant is it that the Edwardian era is frequently perceived to have been bookended by the Boer War and the First World War?

•           Old versus new: how helpful is Samuel Hynes’s observation that the Edwardian era was one in which ‘old and new ideas dwelt uneasily together’? Was the Edwardian period an unusually heterogeneous cultural moment?

•           Uncanny Edwardians: how did the Edwardian preoccupation with séances, emergent psychological theories, and theological developments, influence their perception of themselves in terms of their historical moment?

‘Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes’ is the second annual conference of the Edwardian Culture Network.  The two-day conference will be hosted by the University of Liverpool on April 10th-11th 2014. Please send 300 word abstracts to by no later than Monday 2nd December 2013. For more about the conference and the Edwardian Culture Network, see

Edwardian Encounters: ‘Saddleback from the South-West’ by Charles Holmes (1911)

'Saddleback from the South-West' by C. J. Holmes, 1911 [Ashmolean Museum, Oxford]

‘Saddleback from the South-West’ by C. J. Holmes, 1911 [Ashmolean Museum, Oxford]

A standard art-historical reaction to an artwork (especially one by a modern British artist) is to make it out as little more than the sum of its influences. This might be expressed in terms of a mathematical equation: a + a + a + b ÷ c = d, where a = another work of art/artist, b = subject represented, c = the sensibility of the artist/wider artistic context and d = the original art work. In the case of Charles Holmes’s painting, Saddleback from the South-West, we could flesh that out as follows:

(a)  Constable and English landscape painting + (a) Hokusai, Korin and Japanese prints + (a) Gauguin and Post-Impressionism + (b) The Lake District ÷ (c) Charles Holmes in 1911 = (d) Saddleback from the South-West.

Or, in visual form: Continue reading

Programme: The Long Twentieth Century (1885-2008)

'The Twentieth Century' by C R Nevinson

‘The Twentieth Century’ by C R Nevinson

The Long Twentieth Century (1885-2008): Literature, Politics, Aesthetics

September 18th 2013; Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London


9.00-9.15 Coffee and registration Continue reading

Advertisement Cataloguing Project at The Burlington Magazine


Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following announcement:

The Monument Trust has just granted The Burlington Magazine their generous financial support to catalogue digitally all past and present advertisements 1903-2013, which will be freely available through the Burlington Index Website.

As you probably know, the advertisements placed by art dealers in The Burlington Magazine since 1903 (a data bank of circa 90,000 images) are an unexplored source for the study of the art market and its contribution to art history. Thet supplement directories to reveal the locations of galleries and are an essential tool for mapping the expansion of the commercial art world during the twentieth century. They also include photographs, providing visual evidence of stock held by dealers. Finally, and most importantly, these images provide important evidence of untraced works of art and their whereabouts at a given moment: the digitisation of these resources will greatly aid provenance research. Continue reading

The Architect of Wimbledon

Spencer Gore (senior), 1850-1906

Spencer Gore (senior), 1850-1906

Now the dust behind the bass line has settled, it is worth reminding ourselves of the connections between Edwardian culture and the first ever men’s singles (or ‘gentleman’s singles’, as it was then known) championship held at Wimbledon in 1877.

The two competitors on this occasion were Spencer Gore (1850-1906) and William Cecil Marshall (1849-1921). Gore, like a certain Mr. Murray, triumphed in three sets, in front of a crowd of two hundred, who had paid a shilling to watch. As the winner, Gore was granted a pass through to the final of the following year’s final, which he subsequently lost. He never played the tournament again. Marshall reached the third round in 1879, but got no further than the first round in 1880. From hereon in, both men concentrated on business: Gore as a surveyor and Marshall as an architect. Continue reading

Conference: Enchanted Modernities


This is the first conference of the newly established research network, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, modernism and the Arts c. 1875-1960, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The conference will be organized in collaboration with the Centre for the History of Hermetic philosophy and related currents, University of Amsterdam.

Building on a very successful exploratory colloquium at Liverpool Hope University in December 2010, this conference will explore what the arts can tell us about the complex relationships between Theosophy, modernity and artistic culture, c. 1875-1960. The purpose of this conference is to bring together an international group of scholars working on Theosophy and the arts across the globe in this period, and as a result, map the rich variety of artistic responses to the influence of Theosophy and the Theosophical movements in the modern world. Continue reading

Resource: Yellow Nineties Online

'Vanity' by D. Y. Cameron (The Yellow Book, Vol 13)

‘Vanity’ by D. Y. Cameron (The Yellow Book, Vol 13)

Links between 1890s and 1900s culture have often been obscured by our tendency towards strict periodisation, as if the deaths of Oscar Wilde and Queen Victoria in 1900 and 1901 signalled an abrupt end to both the Victorian era and its late flowering, the so-called fin-de-siècle. And yet many of the key cultural figures of the Edwardian period first rose to prominence in the 1890s (H. G. Wells, W. B. Yeats and Walter Sickert, to name but a few). Max Beerbohm may have claimed to belong securely to the ‘Beardsley period’, but his greatest achievements, and greatest fame, came in the following decade. Furthermore, although the thirteenth and final volume of The Yellow Book (a ‘defining’ text of the period) was published in 1897, its legacy could be said to extend far into the Edwardian age.

On this basis, Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following online resource: the Yellow Nineties Online. The site not only contains links to the full text of all thirteen volumes of The Yellow Book, but a wealth of related material, including contemporary reviews, scholarly commentary, and short biographies of artists, writers and publishers. Highly recommended!