Town and Country: Francis Brett Young, Winifred Holtby

  • Glen Cavaliero


One conspicuous paradox of twentieth-century cultural life has been that, while the growth of cities has led to a nostalgic valuation of the country (the word ‘countryside’ seems to embody it), this very love has tended to be self-defeating. Just as Hugh Walpole’s celebration of Watendlath assisted towards opening up that solitary valley to the motor car, so the yearning for what was thought of as a simpler life led to the gradual complication of that life. (Sturts comments on the settlers from the town in Change in the Village will be remembered.) The enormous increase in motor traffic and the accompanying building speculation led to the kind of widespread ugliness attacked in such influential books as Clough Williams Ellis’s England and the Octopus (1928) and C. E. M. Joad’s The Horrors of the Countryside (1931); and it was at this time that the shanty town of Peacehaven erupted upon the Sussex cliffs. The abandonment of all considerations of taste and design, let alone ordinary amenity, in the development of working-class areas in the nineteenth-century industrial cities was, by a nasty if appropriate logic, taking its toll of the rest of the country. As a result there arose a new, defensive relationship between town and country. The rise in population and a more widespread distribution of wealth and property were leading up to the now-familiar concern with the preservation of natural scenery and of amenities.


Natural Scenery Early Book Motor Traffic Rural Theme Country Life 
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  1. 12.
    Jessica Brett Young, Francis Brett Young, A Biography. With a preface by C. P. Snow (1962), pp. 157, 171.Google Scholar
  2. 25.
    Quoted in Vera Brittain, Testament of Friendship (1940), p. 138.Google Scholar

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© Glen Cavaliero 1977

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  • Glen Cavaliero

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