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Rural Modernity in BritainA Critical Intervention$
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Kristin Bluemel and Michael McCluskey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474420952

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420952.001.0001

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Celebrating England: ‘Heritage’ Writing and the Rural Novelist

Celebrating England: ‘Heritage’ Writing and the Rural Novelist

(p.207) Chapter 12 Celebrating England: ‘Heritage’ Writing and the Rural Novelist
Rural Modernity in Britain

Dominic Head

Edinburgh University Press

In this chapter, Dominic Head focusses on the relationship between nonfiction English heritage writing by popular rural novelists and the same writers’ rural/regional visions explored through their novels of the 1930s and Second World War. Rather than discovering a uniform and distasteful indulgence in easy sentiment or idealizing fantasy, Head’s careful analysis of rural novelists’ nonfiction about rural places and people reveals a richness of approach, from the unexpectedly radical (Henry Williamson’s The Village Book (1930)) to predictably conservative (Francis Brett Young’s Portrait of a Village (1938)), to something in between (Doreen Wallace’s novels, ‘Face of Britain’ books, and ‘Batsford Home Front Handbook’, How to Grow Food (1940)). The chapter summarizes and periodizes the heritage writing of the 1930s-1940s, arguing that it is a genre that may generate a self-consciousness about nation and identity that is inseparable from a pervasive anxiety about modernity.

Keywords:   Heritage writing, Rural novels, Regional literature, Henry Williamson, Francis Brett Young, Doreen Wallace, British identity

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