What materials do you recommend on the Edwardian era?
March 1, 2005 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to learn about the Edwardian era especially (but not exclusively) in England, Ireland, and Canada. What excellent materials (fiction and non-fiction books, movies, websites, etc.) have you read and seen about this period?
posted by orange swan to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Kind Hearts and Coronets
posted by the cuban at 6:28 AM on March 1, 2005

Oh, and the Kenyon and Mitchell archive.
posted by the cuban at 6:37 AM on March 1, 2005

This page from Channel 4's "The Edwardian Country House" website has a number of links to pages about Edwardian lifestyles.

Hope that is of some use...
posted by longbaugh at 6:41 AM on March 1, 2005

Oral history interviews with people alive at the time here.
posted by longbaugh at 6:57 AM on March 1, 2005

In terms of literature, I'd recommend the works of Evelyn Waugh, D. H. Lawrence, W. B. Yeats, Rudyard Kipling, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce.

Admittedly, I just listed what is essentially a syllabus for the first 3 weeks of a 20th century literature class. But these are some of the cultural heavies of the time period you're interested in. Not all of them were publishing throughout the Edwardian era, and many of them had careers that extended into more recent times. But all of them draw on memory and experience of that very odd interstice in Western history.

For WWI remembrances, I'd also recommend some film, particularly All Quiet on the Western Front (based on the excellent book by Remarque) and A Farewell to Arms (based on Hemingway's book). They were made in 1930 and '32, respectively, but they offer early cinematic looks back at a truly disgusting war.
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on March 1, 2005

Howards End, of course. Brilliant!
posted by Chuckles at 7:33 AM on March 1, 2005

Upstairs Downstairs, a PBS series from way back, and The Great War and Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell.
posted by scratch at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

To echo the cuban, I'm just watching the Kenyon and Mitchell archive on DVD at the moment. You mustn't miss it.
posted by salmacis at 8:51 AM on March 1, 2005

I HIGHLY second "Upstairs Downstairs."
posted by grumblebee at 8:58 AM on March 1, 2005

How about "Gosford Park", as well?
posted by Miko at 9:23 AM on March 1, 2005

Response by poster: Just to clarify, the Edwardian era is generally considered to have begun with the death of Queen Victoria and the beginning of King Edward VII's reign in 1901, and ends with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, a few years after the death of Edward VII. "Gosford Park" was set in the thirties.
posted by orange swan at 10:04 AM on March 1, 2005

The Winslow Boy
posted by kirkaracha at 10:04 AM on March 1, 2005

Yeah, I did know when the era was, but couldn't remember when the movie was set.

In addition, the definition of the era depends on your source and whether you approach through literature, history, art history, or strict interpretation as 'Edward's reign'. Some consider the Edwardian era to extend through WWI and end in 1919. From a literature/arts/culture/society point of view, there is a strong case for that. The twenty-year era was relatively culturally consistent until the social revolutions of the early 20s, in the immediate aftermath of the war.
posted by Miko at 10:15 AM on March 1, 2005

Response by poster: The "first twenty years of the 20th century" is also a good working definition, yes.
posted by orange swan at 10:19 AM on March 1, 2005

This page has decent overviews of the history, art, and politics of the day, including movies set during the period. (The movie page reminded me of the excellent Breaker Morant and Gallipoli.)
posted by kirkaracha at 10:20 AM on March 1, 2005

You've GOT to get Upstairs Downstairs! I've been going through the discs from Netflix and it's better than heroin.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:46 AM on March 1, 2005

The website accompanying the National Gallery of Australia's recent exhibition, The Edwardians: Secrets and Desires, provides a good overview of Edwardian art.

Contemporary diaries and memoirs of the period: among my favourites are David Newsome (ed.), Edwardian Excursions: a selection from the diaries of A.C. Benson, 1898-1904 (1980), and Leonard Woolf, Beginning Again: an autobiography of the years 1911-1918 (1964). (Benson was a quintessential Edwardian figure: editor of Queen Victoria's letters, author of the words to 'Land of Hope and Glory', and a compulsive diarist. Leonard Woolf was, of course, Virginia Woolf's husband, but also a distinguished figure in his own right.)

Novels set in the Edwardian period: L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953); Isabel Colegate, The Shooting Party (1980); and their respective film versions.
posted by verstegan at 3:58 PM on March 1, 2005

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