Community Experiments 1900-1945
By Dennis Hardy
Routledge – 2001 – 320 pages
England in the early part of the twentieth century was rich in utopian ventures - diverse and intriguing in their scope and aims. Two world wars, an economic depression, and the emergence of fascist states in Europe were all a spur to idealists to seek new limits - to escape from the here and now, and to create sanctuaries for new and better lives.
Dennis Hardy explores this fascinating history of utopian ideals, the lives of those who pursued them, and the utopian communities they created.
Some communities were fired by a long tradition of land movements, others by thoughts of more humane ways of building towns. In turn there were experiments devoted to the arts; to the promotion of religious doctrine; and to a variety of political causes. And some were just 'places of the imagination'.
Utopian England is about just one episode in the perennial search for perfection, but what is revealed has lessons that extend well beyond a particular time and place. So long as there are failings in society, so long as rationality is not enough, there will continue to be a place for thinking the impossible, for going in search of utopia.
'This book fills a much needed gap.' - The Ecologist
'The book draws together a wealth of history to find elsewhere, told with sympathy and understanding.' - Architectural Review
'Utopian England stands as an excellent introduction to its subject … clearly written, it is an enjoyable as well as an instructive read, and a general as well as an academic readership' - Utopian Studies
'Like the earlier volume Utopian England is a definitive study, comprehensively researched, beautifully written, and illustrated with poignant archive photographs.' - Town Planning Review
'Hardy's publishers have done his work proud: the book is well produced and well proof-read, and contains many useful maps, photographs, cartoons and other illustrations; and , having worked in this field for some time the author is an excellent guide to the English utopians.' - Local Environment
'[Utopian England] is an articulate reference to the various quests for perfection that were pursued in the first 45 years of this century… It is a useful reference to earlier examples of utopian communities.' - Urban Design Quarterly, Autumn 2002
Chapter 1 - Quest for Perfection. Chapter 2- The Land of Utopia. Chapter 3 - Cities in the Sun. Chapter 4 - The Art of Community. Chapter 5 - Sacred Places. Chapter 6 - The Politics of Nowhere. Chapter 7 - The Place of Imagination. Chapter 8 - Twentieth Century Conundrum.
Dennis Hardy is Professor of Utopian History at Middlesex University.