As David Matless argues in this book—updated in this accessible, pocket edition—landscape has been central to definitions of Englishness for centuries. It is the aspect of English life where visions of the past, present, and future have met in debates over questions of national identity, disputes over history and modernity, and ideals of citizenship and the body. Extensively illustrated, Landscape and Englishness explores just how important the aesthetics of Britain’s cities and countryside have been to its people.
Matless examines a wide range of material, including topographical guides, health manuals, paintings, poetry, architectural polemics, photography, nature guides, and novels. Taking readers to the interwar period, he explores how England negotiated the modern and traditional, the urban and rural, the progressive and preservationist, in its decisions over how to develop the countryside, re-plan cities, and support various cultures of leisure and citizenship. Tracing the role of landscape to Englishness from then up until the present day, he shows how familiar notions of heritage in landscape are products of the immediate post-war era, and he unveils how the present always resonates with the past.