Category Archives: Essays

Some Challenges of an Edwardian Parlour Band

'Ida Sweet as Apple Cider' by Eddie Munson, 1916

‘Ida Sweet as Apple Cider’ by Eddie Munson, 1916 edition

[The following article was written by Patricia Hammond, a researcher and performer of Edwardian ragtime-parlour music.]

I have a band called Ragtime Parlour. We perform Edwardian music: songs to sing along to, songs to dance to, songs to listen to. As far as I know, we’re the only Edwardian band in London.

This is our biggest strength, and our biggest liability.

“Is it jazz?” the bookers ask.
“Not really. We can improvise,” I tell them, “And it’s a style that informed jazz, led to it.”
“But if it isn’t jazz, is it classical?”
“Classical music lovers always adore it,” I answer, truthfully.
“Yes but what can we call it?”
“But nobody knows what that is.” Continue reading

The Edwardian Ford


The latest volume of International Ford Madox Ford Studies is titled ‘The Edwardian Ford Madox Ford’. According to the publishers the volume ‘focuses on Ford’s work from the Edwardian decade and a half before the First World War. It contains Michael Schmidt’s Ford Madox Ford Lecture, and fourteen other essays by British, American, French and German experts, both leading authorities and younger scholars. Chapters on Ford’s fiction, poetry, criticism of literature and painting, writing about England, and dealings on the Edwardian literary scene as editor and with publishers, bring out his versatility and ingenuity throughout his first major creative phase’. For more information see the publisher’s pages.

For more on Ford Madox Ford see the Ford Madox Ford Society.

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

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