This edition finds us in a very sombre mood. On 1 November we lost our long-term collaborator Fred Donnelly, who began writing for Albion in 2007 and contributed many articles on English social and political history. This was a very difficult blow, particularly as it was so unexpected --at the Albion tenth anniversary festivities in September, he was full of energy and interest. He would have wanted us to carry on, however, so after a delay of some weeks, this edition of Albion finally appears.
To begin with, a feature article from Mark Jones that would have delighted Fred, an exercise in micro social history, in fact --the analysis of a Victorian prison governor's commonplace book. It is alternately amusing and poignant, and provides a rare snapshot of a certain type of nineteenth century mentality.
To my mind, the most important book to appear this year was Michael Kenny's The Politics of English Nationhood, and I was fortunate to get the chance to review it. It is deeply-researched, wide-ranging, and inspiring in its unorthodox approach. The Books section also includes Mark's wickedly funny appreciation of the (in its time) scandalous The Wife of Rossetti, by Violet Hunt. A particular theme of this edition seems to be travel, specifically young Englishmen lighting out for the Continent. We have two reviews of travel books, one an account of a journey by a gilded youth, one very definitely not: we are delighted to feature Dr. Mary Thaler's thoughtful examination of Laurie Lee's As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, which evaluates his perceptions of contemporary Spain, and I review the final offering from the late Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Broken Road.
The British Folk Art exhibition at Tate Britain was perhaps the most important art story of the year, and both Paul and Mark here contribute their assessments of it. Paul gives a detailed and thought-provoking evaluation of the exhibition, room by room, while Mark weighs in on the catalogue. (Interestingly, both of them found the concept of 'folk art' itself problematic.)
Our focus on psychogeography continues with Neil's two articles in the Cinema section, one an entertaining account of Iain Sinclair's 70x70 event, and the other a look at Andrew Kötting's moving and troubling In the Wake of a Deadad, a meditation on mortality and family relationships. Also in Cinema, the new film Belle is both important and frustrating --a somewhat inaccurate look at a vital historical subject-- and I found myself torn while reviewing it.
In music, James examines a plethora of progressive and folk releases, including a new album from the splendidly named House of Hats, and a reissue from the marvellous Roger Ruskin Spear of Bonzo Dog fame. He also provides a poetic account of Matt Berry's (musical) back catalogue. Em in Classical finds a number of excellent performances amongst the recent crop of English music releases, which includes works by Walton, Elgar, and many others. Finally, I was delighted to review a DVD of BBC performances by the late Jake Thackray, which also features footage of Alex Glasgow, Ralph McTell and Pete Scott. In Diversions, readers will again find Em's reviews of numerous beauty products, with colder weather in mind.
Best wishes for the holiday season, and until 2015.--The Editor