Monthly Archives: July 2014

CFP: Enchanted Edwardians


We are pleased to announce the title and call for papers for our third annual conference. Please see details below, and share with interested parties! (pdf version: Enchanted Edwardians CFP)


Third Annual Conference of the Edwardian Culture Network,

University of Bristol, 30TH-31ST MARCH 2015


Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Professor Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol) and Dr. Sarah Turner (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)


‘The Hills are empty now, and all the People of the Hills are gone. I’m the only one left. I’m Puck, the oldest Old Thing in England, very much at your service if—if you care to have anything to do with me’.

Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906)

Edwardian culture is filled with otherworldly encounters: from Rat and Mole’s meeting with Pan on the riverbank in Wind in the Willows (1908), to Lionel Wallace’s glimpse of an enchanted garden beyond the green door in H. G. Well’s short story The Door in the Wall (1911). In art, Charles Conder’s painted fans evoked an exotic arcadia, whilst the music of Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius conjured up nostalgic dreamlands.

Such encounters are all the more powerful because of their briefness: the sense that enchantment is, as Kipling suggests in Puck of Pook’s Hill, fast becoming a thing of the past. What room was left for fantasy in the modern, scientifically advanced world of the early twentieth century? This conference seeks to explore this question, and to investigate other ways in which the Edwardians understood and employed the idea of the enchanted, the haunted and the supernatural.

We invite 300-word proposals for papers on any aspect of the theme ‘Enchanted Edwardians’, from scholars working in all fields of British culture c.1895-1914. Topics might include, but are not limited to:


♦ Art as a process of enchantment: enchantment as a metaphor for art; the legacy of Pre-Raphaelitism and Symbolism in art; the representation, or musical evocation, of enchanted worlds.

♦ Childhood: childhood as an enchanted land; representations and understandings of childhood in Edwardian culture and psychology; Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie and the ‘Golden Age’ of children’s literature.

♦  Enchanted and Haunted Spaces: Britain as an ‘enchanted isle’; the landscape as a culmination of historically enchanted layers; Conan Doyle and the concept of ‘lost worlds’; echoes of ‘Eden’, ‘Cockaigne’ and ‘Arcadia’.

♦  Fairytales and Mythologies: fantasy literature in the Edwardian age; appropriation of mythological stories; Yeats and the Celtic Revival.

♦  Psychologies: psychoanalysis and the dream-world; Freud and British culture; art and interiority.

♦  Science and Technology: new inventions and breakthroughs such as the motor car, air travel, quantum theory, x-ray, Marconi and the trans-Atlantic telegraph; science fiction; time-travel.

♦  Sensuality and the ‘Other’: enchantment and exoticism; the enchantment of other cultures; Omar Khayyam and the Arabian Nights; the Edwardian interest in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese cultures.

♦  Spirituality and the Supernatural: theosophy; mysticism; witchcraft and the occult; ghost stories; séances; theological modernism; the relationship between culture and religion; James Frazer and the ‘The Golden Bough’.

♦  Disenchantment: enchantment and its antitheses; fantasy versus realism; the magical and the prosaic; imagination and pragmatism.


Proposals should be sent to no later than December 5th 2014. For more about the Edwardian Culture Network, including previous conferences and events, see

This conference will be hosted by the University of Bristol, in association with the Edwardian Culture Network.

CFP: George MacDonald and the Victorian Roots of Modern Fantasy


Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following event, taking place on the 13th-15th August 2015, in Oxford:

MacDonald is the greatest genius of this kind whom I know.”
C.S. Lewis

The ‘Inklings’, an Oxford group that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams, has long been recognized as one of the most creative literary groups of the mid-twentieth century, one whose fantasy writings in particular have become a major influence on the development of subsequent literature and film. But, as they freely acknowledged, behind these lay an earlier generation of Victorian writers who pioneered the forms they developed – perhaps most notably George MacDonald. With the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis we wish to explore the many connections, and to see some of the ways in which the work of the Inklings was ‘informed’ by the work MacDonald and his fellow fantasists. Speakers include Kerry Dearborn, Danny Gableman, Malcolm Guite, Monika Hilder, Stephen Logan, Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson, Gisela Kreglinger, John Pennington, Stephen Prickett (Chair) and Jean Webb. As Magdalen was Lewis’s college – host to many ‘Inkling’ discussions – and as Oxford’s history is long-entwined with the genre of fantasy, the conference will include a thematic introduction to relevant sites. Proposals (including name and institutional affiliation, CV, title of the paper, and an abstract of no more than 400 words) to by May 1, 2014.

For more information, see here.

Ten Restful Ladies (1900-1904)

Ambrose McEvoy, 'The Letter', c.1904

Ambrose McEvoy, ‘The Letter’, c.1904

‘For the past few years the New English Art Club has been dominated by the personalities of a few members who have made the domestic picture the dominant note of the club’s exhibitions. I do not mean the millinery-baby domestic picture of the Royal Academy, rather the home picture of the Dutch School. The explanation is simple enough. Mr. Orpen, Mr. Rothenstein, Mr. Russell, Mr. Muirhead have chosen to paint the rooms in which they live, and the choice and simple possessions that an artist gathers about him. This example of dogged hard work has been infectious’ (C L H, The Academy and Literature, Nov 15th, 1902)

In light of this review, and this short article, here is a selection of ten early Edwardian representations of the domestic interior (or, as Max Beerbohm once put it, ‘restful ladies in dim or sunny rooms’). All artists featured were regular exhibitors at the New England Art Club at the turn of the century.

Please feel free to put forward your own suggestions/favourites in the comments!

1. William Rothenstein, The Browning Readers, 1900

2. William Orpen, The Mirror, 1900

3. Henry Tonks, Rosamund and the Purple Jar, 1900

4. Philip Wilson Steer, Hydrangeas, 1901

5. Mary MacEvoy, Interior: Girl Reading, 1902

6. Francis Dodd, Afternoon in the Parlour, 1902

7. Ambrose McEvoy, The Letter, 1904

8. David Muirhead, Night Shadows, c.1900

9. Walter Sickert, La Nera, 1903

10. Harold Gilman, Grace Canedy, c.1904


Review: Representing Homes from the Victorians to the Moderns


Domestic Interiors: Representing Homes from the Victorians to the Moderns, ed. Georgina Downey (Bloomsbury, London, 2013)

“Interiors” are the very things which all the younger men are industriously striving to paint. Restful ladies in dim or sunny rooms, in the midst of their own pretty furniture, and sometimes raptly nursing their own pretty babies – these, nowadays, are the ends of every young painter’s desire. Alas for the vanity of the endeavour!’ (Max Beerbohm, The Saturday Review, 18th April 1903)

As this comment suggests, the domestic interior was something of an obsession among Edwardian artists. Around the turn of the century, the bi-annual exhibitions of the New English Art Club were overwhelmed by a flood of paintings depicting (in the words of one disgruntled critic) ‘dingy London rooms with plain walls, highly polished furniture, a green door or dado, one figure or more, and frequently a green-shaded lamp’.[1] There were several key inspirations behind this cult, ranging from contemporary Scandinavian drama and the popularity of seventeenth-century Dutch art, to the ever-pressing desire of the artistic community to make their mark on interior design. That this ambition fell under the purview of the painter was never in doubt; not for a generation who had grown up with the names of Rossetti and Whistler ringing in their ears. In the early 1900s, the domestic interior was a battlefield containing several armies of competing tastes; a subject on which almost everyone had an opinion or a preference. It was much more than a matter of dados or lamps: the interior was the space in which identities were made. Continue reading