Landscape has been central to definitions of Englishness for centuries. David Matless argues that landscape has been the site where English 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. Landscape and Englishness is extensively illustrated and draws on a wide range of material - topographical guides, health manuals, paintings, poetry, architectural polemic, photography, nature guides and novels. The author first examines the inter-war period, showing how a vision of Englishness and landscape as both modern and traditional, urban and rural, progressive and preservationist, took shape around debates over building in the countryside, the replanning of cities, and the cultures of leisure and citizenship. He concludes by tracing out the story of landscape and Englishness down to the present day, showing how the familiar terms of debate regarding landscape and heritage are a product of the immediate post-war era, and asking how current arguments over care for the environment or expressions of the nation resonate with earlier histories and geographies.
David Matless is Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of In the Nature of Landscape: Cultural Geography on the Norfolk Broads (2014) and The Regional Book (2015), and co-editor of Geographies of British Modernity (2003) and The Place of Music (1998).