English Suburbs
September 21, 2022 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone point me to writing about English suburbs? How they developed, cultural history, etc.

I've read a lot about the history of American suburbs, but on a recent trip to England I found myself fascinated by English suburbs. I found myself making a lot of assumptions that are probably wrong and I'd like to learn more.
posted by kittensofthenight to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If a documentary might qualify, I can highly recommend the 1973 BBC film Metro-Land, which was written and narrated by Poet Laureate John Betjeman. Shouldn’t be too hard to find on YouTube.
posted by theory at 3:43 PM on September 21 [7 favorites]

Class, Culture and Suburban Anxieties in the Victorian Era (Amazon. Disclosure: Author is an acquaintance.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:46 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

You might like the sociological study Family and Class in a London Suburb (1960), by Michael Young and Peter Willmott. It's a sort of sequel to the better-known Family and Kinship in East London, but you don't have to have read the earlier one first. I think it's very readable, lots of direct quotes from the residents who were interviewed, lots of information about families and individuals, habits - is tennis club membership denied to the more working-class people, who looks after the children, do people go to church, what do they think of their neighbours, what percentage of people are lonely? There are cheap copies on Amazon, or it is available on the Internet Archive.
posted by paduasoy at 3:54 PM on September 21 [4 favorites]

New towns are a particular kind of (mostly) suburb, and there's a great book about them. Thatcher's Progress
From Social Democracy to Market Liberalism through an English New Town
posted by cushie at 4:03 PM on September 21 [3 favorites]

This three part BBC radio documentary about art of the suburbs is fantastic. Lots about the cultural and social history. It also discusses in passing how representation of suburbs in the US and the UK differ.
posted by EllaEm at 7:40 PM on September 21 [2 favorites]

You might also enjoy Estates by Lynsey Hanley, which is about the history of & experience of living in 20C social housing.
posted by rd45 at 11:05 PM on September 21 [3 favorites]

Garden Cities of To-morrow by Ebenezer Howard is sort of core curriculum on this subject. It became the beginning of an entire movement, and directly inspired the architects Parker and Unwin to design model suburbs and suburban house. (All links to wikipedia).
posted by mumimor at 3:24 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

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