ENCHANTED EDWARDIANS Conference 30/31 March 2015

Croydon’s Cicely Mary Barker (born 1895) grew up in the period of the Edwardians fascination with enhancement. Enchantment is the central theme of  Samuel Coleridge-Taylors’ opera Thelma. Although never performed in his life time its story line becomes more understandable given the Edwardian fascination.

ENCHANTED EDWARDIANS is the title of the Third Annual Conference of the Edwardian Culture Network being held at the University of Bristol on 30 and 31 March next year.

 ‘The Hills are empty now, and all the People of the Hills are gone.

I’m the only one left. I’m Puck, the oldest Old Thing in England,

very much at your service if—i

f you care to have anything to do with me’.

Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906)

Edwardian culture is filled with otherworldly encounters: from Rat and Mole’s meeting with Pan on the riverbank in Wind in the Willows (1908), to Lionel Wallace’s glimpse of an enchanted garden beyond the green door in H. G. Well’s short story The Door in the Wall (1911). In art, Charles Conder’s painted fans evoked an exotic arcadia, whilst the music of Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius conjured up nostalgic dreamlands.

Such encounters are all the more powerful because of their briefness: the sense that enchantment is, as Kipling suggests in Puck of Pook’s Hill, fast becoming a thing of the past. What room was left for fantasy in the modern, scientifically advanced world of the early twentieth century? This conference seeks to explore this question, and to investigate other ways in which the Edwardians understood and employed the idea of the enchanted, the haunted and the supernatural.

The Network invites 300-word proposals for papers on any aspect of the theme ‘Enchanted Edwardians’, from scholars working in all fields of British culture c.1895-1914. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

Art as a process of enchantment: enchantment as a metaphor for art; the legacy of Pre-Raphaelitism and Symbolism in art; the representation, or musical evocation, of enchanted worlds.

Childhood: childhood as an enchanted land; representations and understandings of childhood in Edwardian culture and psychology; Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie and the ‘Golden Age’ of children’s literature.

Enchanted and Haunted Spaces: Britain as an ‘enchanted isle’; the landscape as a culmination of historically enchanted layers; Conan Doyle and the concept of ‘lost worlds’; echoes of ‘Eden’, ‘Cockaigne’ and ‘Arcadia’.

Fairytales and Mythologies: fantasy literature in the Edwardian age; appropriation of mythological stories; Yeats and the Celtic Revival.

Psychologies: psychoanalysis and the dream-world; Freud and British culture; art and interiority.

Science and Technology: new inventions and breakthroughs such as the motor car, air travel, quantum theory, x-ray, Marconi and the trans-Atlantic telegraph; science fiction; time-travel.

Sensuality and the ‘Other’: enchantment and exoticism; the enchantment of other cultures; Omar Khayyam and the Arabian Nights; the Edwardian interest in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese cultures.

Spirituality and the Supernatural: theosophy; mysticism; witchcraft and the occult; ghost stories; séances; theological modernism; the relationship between culture and religion; James Frazer and the ‘The Golden Bough’.

Disenchantment: enchantment and its antitheses; fantasy versus realism; the magical and the prosaic; imagination and pragmatism.

Proposals should be sent to edwardianculture@hotmail.co.uk

no later than December 5 2014.

For more about the Edwardian Culture Network see



About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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