Frank Beck

Writer and photographer, New York

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Edwardians in the mirror

The Edwardian Sense: Art, Design and Performance in Britain, 1901-1910. Morna O'Neill and Michael Hatt, eds. (NY and London: Yale Center for British Art and Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2010).

Reviewed in The Elgar Society Journal, Vol. 17, No.2, pp. 36-8.

When Queen Victoria died in January 1901, H.G. Wells compared the late monarch to ‘a great paperweight that for half a century sat upon men’s minds … When she was removed, their ideas began to blow.’ But the history of ideas, like the history of events, is seldom that simple.

Fresh breezes were undoubtedly blowing when Edward VII took the throne that August, but they had been brewing for some time. The previous five years had seen the publication of A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad (1896), Wells’ own War of the Worlds (1898) and Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness (1899). These are hardly the signs of an oppressed or dormant culture.

For the complete review, please see p. 36 of the Source at right.