Britain’s Battle to Go Modern: Confronting Architectural Modernisms, 1900-1925


  • Author Name: Steven L. Wright
  • Publication Date: 28/07/2018
  • Format: Hardback

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ISBN: 9781912362813

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Historians traditionally have summarised Britain’s road to modernism by highlighting exclusive residences and era-defining commercial buildings constructed from the late 1920s through 1939. While cautious to embrace “the new”, Britain arrived eventually only to have its momentum stymied by World War II. This book attempts to correct this oversimplification by offering a social and cultural history of how the architectural profession—a small but important segment of British society—grappled with the cultural changes brought by modernisms in the early 20th century.

Steven’s research begins at the beginning of the 20th century in order to uncover the complexities of why it took almost a quarter century for architects and many in society to think seriously about “going modern”—a movement many were made aware of only when new art canvases from Europe reached home shores in 1910. This fractious and combative relationship offers additional insights into why immediately after the Great War the architectural profession and society found difficulty accepting the permanency of modernisms. Prolific discussions continued until the shared embarrassment of the British pavilion at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris became a catalyst for change.

Steven L. Wright lives in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in North Yorkshire. He earned a BA with High Honours and an MA in history from the University of Cincinnati. After serving five years as a captain/helicopter pilot in the US Army, Steven worked 20 years as a professional historian and archivist in the US. He is currently an independent researcher based in Great Britain. He has presented papers at several international conferences concerning cultural aspects of the coming of the Great War and the post-war era. His articles have appeared in journals including War and Society, Queen City Heritage and the Journal of San Diego History. While art, literature, fashion etc. have been studied and analysed often, he feels collective attitudes toward modern architecture before and immediately after the Great War have been neglected.


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