Welcome to the new edition of Albion, packed with features and reviews. We are especially pleased to welcome three new writers. Niall Taylor (no relation) provides an in-depth comparison of two famous English travel writers, J. B. Priestley and H. V. Morton, which uncovers some surprising commonalities between them. Steve Cox offers a sensitive appraisal of that touchstone of English emotionalism, Brief Encounter, suggesting reasons why the film has had such a powerful hold on our hearts and imaginations.
Monty Trumpington's explanation of the history and intricacies of English church bell-ringing is appropriately Betjemanesque, and is simple enough for the complete novice to follow. His photograph of a surprisingly cute Norman church carving features on our home page. This edition contains another major research article by Fred Donnelly, this time using a philological approach to explore the historicity of Robin Hood. In cinema, Neil Jackson brings elegance and wit to bear on new releases of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Private Road, both of which deal with the theme of relationships, but in very different ways. He also reviews a treasure-trove of cultural arcana, The British 'B' Film by Stephen Chibnall and Brian McFarlane, which illuminates the more humdrum side of English cinema, films whose quotidian nature now makes them seem exotic. Similarly, the BFI's splendid new documentary box set Shadows of Progress allows the viewer to wallow in nostalgia; at various points while watching it, I found myself wondering what the filmmakers would have thought of the harrowing new photographic essay Don't Call Me Urban! The Time of Grime, by Simon Wheatley. It explores the subculture that gave birth to grime music, and provides a window onto a little-seen world. In Books, Alex Betts examines the double-life theme in English literature, comparing and contrasting four fictional English 'gentlemen' in his inimitable manner to determine what makes their deviousness attractive.
In Art, Paul Flux contributes three thoughtful reviews of new books from Lund Humphries and Tate Publishing. Sheila Fell was well-known in her own day, but has dwindled in significance since her death; Cate Haste's study is a welcome corrective. The Pre-Raphaelites need no introduction, of course, so it is a delight to discover a fresh approach to their work in Diane Waggoner's comparative treatment of nineteenth-century photography and Pre-Raphaelite art, The Pre-Raphaelite Lens. Finally, Paul's review of Women War Artists highlights the under-appreciated contribution of female artists to war art.
The Music section is teeming with reviews, as usual. James Turner evaluates offerings from Peter Bardens, the Albion Band, Keith Christmas, and many others, with his usual balance between the mainstream and obscurities. Em Marshall contributes reviews of releases from numerous composers, including Percy Grainger, Holst, and Rutland Boughton, and is highly impressed with the West Kazakhstan Philharmonic Orchestra's interpretation of Elgar's violin music. In Diversions, I enjoy the effervescence of Paul Jones, former lead singer of Manfred Mann (and still to be heard presenting a rhythm and blues show on the BBC, incidentally). That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and see you in the autumn. --The Editor