Monthly Archives: June 2014

CFP Reminder: Arnold Bennett and his Circle




As I closed the book at 7 in the morning after the shortest sleepless night of my experience a thought passed through my head that I knew pretty well my “Bennett militant” and that, not to be too complimentary, he was a pretty good hand at it; but that there I had “Bennett triumphant” without any doubt whatever. A memorable night.

Joseph Conrad in a letter to Arnold Bennett, January 1924

Conrad was one of many contemporaries who recognised Arnold Bennett as one of the most assured and influential writers of his generation. At once both a commercially-successful and an experimental writer, Bennett’s range encompassed commercial fiction and naturalism, self-help books and short stories, journalism and science-fiction. ‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’ will seek to present Bennett as an icon of the Edwardian age, fundamental to our understanding of the period, and a writer whose work needs to be considered specifically in an Edwardian context.

We invite abstracts (250-300 words) for ten-minute papers on any aspect of Bennett’s Edwardian writing, biography and wider circle. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

–  Bennett and the Edwardian literary field

–  Bennett’s literary theories

–  Bennett and his contemporaries

–  Bennett’s influences and influence

–  Bennett and genre

–  Bennett and material culture

–  Bennett’s readers

Proposals should be sent to by Monday 30th June 2014. Confirmed speakers include Professor David Amigoni (Keele University), Professor Ruth Robbins (Leeds Metropolitan University), John Shapcott (Keele University), and Professor Deborah Wynne (University of Chester). For updates about the event, please visit

Event: Rural Modernity at MSA16

Ebenezer Howard's plan for the Garden City

Ebenezer Howard’s plan for the Garden City

Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following seminar, which will form part of the forthcoming Modernist Studies Association conference in Pittsburgh (for more information on the conference see here).

Rural Modernity (MSA Seminar, open to 15 participants all of whom present 5-7 page position papers in advance and discuss this work at the conference in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 6-9 November 2014). Kristin Bluemel, Organizer

This seminar invites participants to move beyond analysis of rural representation in modernist works to a theoretical formulation of rural modernity as an interpretive category. What is to be gained for twentieth-century arts and culture studies by shifting our attention from the modernization of the city to modernization of the country, by theorizing rural modernity in relation to existing theories of modernism, middlebrow, and modernity?
Invited participant: Ysanne Holt, Art History, Northumbria University.

CFP: Aestheticism and Decadence in the Age of Modernism: 1895 to 1945


Aestheticism and Decadence in the Age of Modernism: 1895 to 1945

17-18 April 2015
Institute of English Studies, Senate House, London.

This interdisciplinary conference intends to open discussions about the meaning and significance of Aestheticism and Decadence as these movements evolved between 1895 and the mid-twentieth century. Aestheticism and Decadence were not vanquished with Wilde’s imprisonment but, rather, continued as vital and diverse forms in twentieth century aesthetics and culture. Their influence was in some cases openly acknowledged by the authors in question, but often it was oblique and obscured as many later writers, most famously the High Modernists, eschewed any admissions of such a debt. Continue reading

Edwardian (Horticulture) 12: Dream Gardens

‘Nude in a Garden’ by Frederick Cayley Robinson, c.1895 (National Museums, Liverpool)

‘One of the most exquisite of Mrs. Browning’s poems is The Lost Bower; it is endeared to me because it expresses so fully a childish bereavement of my own, for I have lost a garden. I saw this beautiful garden, filled with radiant blossoms, rich with fruits and berries, set with beehives, rabbit hutches, and a dovecote, and enclosed about with hedges; and through it ran a purling brook – a thing I ever longer for in my home garden. All one happy summer afternoon I played in it, and gathered from its beds and borders at will – and I have never seen it since. When I was still a child I used to ask to return to it, but no one seemed to understand; and when I was grown I asked where it was, describing it in every detail, and the only answer was that it was a dream, I had never seen and played in such a garden’ (Mrs Alice Morse Earle, Old-Time Gardens, 1901).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 11: The Spice of Adventure

'The Garden City, Letchworth', by Spencer Gore, 1913 (First Garden City Heritage Museum)

‘The Garden City, Letchworth’, by Spencer Gore, 1913 (First Garden City Heritage Museum)

‘For small suburban gardens, where it is not possible to achieve water ampitheatres or even terrace-walks, it will yet be possible to gain a different level in the garden by having recourse to another plan. A flight of wooden, rather ladder-like steps can lead up to a gallery surrounding a portion of the trunk of a tree. This, if the tree chances to be large and overshadowing, will give a very delightful retreat, in which the family can do their reading and writing. There is something that recalls the Swiss Family Robinson about it, and this feeling of a spice of adventure is all the more enjoyable’ (Viscountess Frances Wolseley, Gardens, Their Form and Design, 1919).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 10: Malignent Magentas

'The Blue Butterflies' by William Nicholson, 1913 (The National Trust)

‘The Blue Butterflies’ by William Nicholson, 1913 (The National Trust)

‘I am always surprised at the vague, not to say reckless, fashion in which garden folk set to work to describe the colours of flowers, and at the way in which quite wrong colours are attributed to them. […] Nothing is more frequent in plant catalogues than ‘bright golden yellow’, when bright yellow is meant. Gold is not bring yellow. […] Another example of the same slip-slop is the term flame coloured, and it is often preceded by the word gorgeous. This contradictory mixture of terms is generally used to mean bright scarlet. When I look at a flame, whether of fire or candle, I see that the colour is a rather pale yellow, with a reddish tinge about its upper forks, and side wings often a bluish white – no scarlet anywhere. […] crimson is a word to beware of; it covers such a wide extent of ground, and is used to carelessly in plant catalogues, that one cannot know whether it stands for a rich blood colour or for a malignant magenta’ (Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 9: The Dahlia’s Duty

Adrian Allinson, 'Dahlias' (Salford)

Adrian Allinson, ‘Dahlias’ (Salford)

‘The Dahlia’s first duty in life is to flaunt and to swagger and to carry gorgeous blooms well above its leaves, and on no account to hang its head’ (Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 8: The Rebellious Gardener

'The Gardener's Daughter' by Charles Conder, 1902-3 (Manchester City Galleries)

‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ by Charles Conder, 1902-3 (Manchester City Galleries)

‘How I loathe being ill! How I fight it, rebel against it, garden up to the very last moment and get up tottering to go out and replant the violet bed’ (Mrs Leslie Williams, A Garden in the Suburbs, 1901).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 7: Exercising the Imagination and Assessing the Competition

'Bar House Garden, Beverley' by Frederick William Elwell, 1914 (Beverley Art Gallery)

‘Bar House Garden, Beverley’ by Frederick William Elwell, 1914 (Beverley Art Gallery)

‘Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. You are always living three, or indeed six, months hence. I believe that people entirely devoid of imagination never can be really good gardeners. To be content with the present, and not striving about the future, is fatal’

‘When looking through old books or modern catalogues, one feels one has nothing in one’s garden, but I must confess that visiting other people’s gardens makes me feel I really have a very fair collection’ (Mrs C. W. Earle, Pot-Pourri From a Surrey Garden, 1897).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 6: Depression and Disappointment

'A View from the Window at 6 Cambrian Road, Richmond' by Spencer Gore (The Fitzwilliam Museum)

‘A View from the Window at 6 Cambrian Road, Richmond’ by Spencer Gore (The Fitzwilliam Museum)

‘You must not, any of you, be surprised if you have moments in your gardening life of such profound depression and disappointment that you will almost wish you had been content to leave everything alone and have no garden at all’ (Mrs C. W. Earle, Pot-Pourri From a Surrey Garden, 1897).