Romantic Moderns

English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper


An award-winning study of England’s unique and peculiarly insular variant of modernism


ISBN: 9780500296486 Category:

Alexandra Harris


An award-winning study of England’s unique and peculiarly insular variant of modernism.

While the battles for modern art and society were being fought in France and Spain, it has seemed a betrayal that John Betjeman and John Piper were in love with a provincial world of old churches and tea-shops. In this multi-award-winning book, Alexandra Harris tells a different story. In the 1930s and 1940s, artists and writers explored what it meant to be alive in England. Eclectically, passionately, wittily, they showed that ‘the modern’ need not be at war with the past. Constructivists and conservatives could work together, and even the Bauhaus émigré, László Moholy-Nagy, was beguiled into taking photographs for Betjeman’s nostalgic Oxford University Chest.

This modern English renaissance was shared by writers, painters, gardeners, architects, critics, tourists and composers. John Piper, Virginia Woolf, Florence White, Christopher Tunnard, Evelyn Waugh, E. M. Forster and the Sitwells are part of the story, along with Bill Brandt, Graham Sutherland, Eric Ravilious and Cecil Beaton.

Additional information

Weight 458 g
Dimensions 12.9 x 19.6 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 20 July 2023
Number of pages 416
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 12.9 x 19.6 cm
Weight 458 g


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Alexandra Harris was educated at the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute, London, and is currently Professorial Fellow, Department of English Literature at the University of Birmingham. She is the author of several books, including Weatherland and Virginia Woolf, both published by Thames & Hudson.