‘Potland’ by Joseph Pennell
‘Happily the inhabitants of the Five Towns in that era were passably pleased with themselves, and they never suspected that they were not quite modern and quite awake. They thought that the intellectual, the industrial, and the social movements had gone about as far as these movements could go, and they were amazed at their own progress. Instead of being humble and ashamed, they actually showed pride in their pitiful achievements. They ought to have looked forward meekly to the prodigious feats of posterity; but, having too little faith and too much conceit, they were content to look behind and make comparisons with the past. They did not foresee the miraculous generation which is us’.
(Arnold Bennett, The Old Wives Tale, 1908)
‘A Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris’ by Gwen John (1907-09)
[Many thanks to all those who attended ‘Beyond the Garden Party: Rethinking Edwardian Culture’ in Durham and York on the 12th and 13th of April. The text below formed part of the introduction given by the organisers on the opening day]
This conference is the inaugural event of the Edwardian Culture Network, which we founded in the summer of 2011. Our primary reason for creating the network was the simple fact that it didn’t already exist. One of the frustrating things about working on the Edwardian period is that you tend to find yourself either tacked onto the end of the Victorian era or incorporated into the beginnings of Modernism. Like many scholars in this field, we have found ourselves appearing at conferences organised by Victorianist and Modernist networks, and this raised the question: why isn’t there an Edwardian Network? The strict Edwardian period of 1901 to 1910, or what we’re calling the ‘long Edwardian era’, which spans 1895 through 1914, are years of rich and varied cultural, political, religious and social activity that deserve to be explored in their own right. To be sure, we don’t seek to compartmentalise the period 1895 to 1914 entirely, and it remains vital that there is on-going dialogue between Victorianists, Edwardianists, and Modernists. Yet it seemed to us that it was necessary to create a dedicated space for those working on Edwardian culture to come together and share their ideas: in person and on-line. Continue reading