Welcome —finally!— to the Summer edition of Albion. The delay has nothing to do with our fabulous team, and is entirely attributable to the editor’s recent move, which resulted in a lack of internet for nearly a month. This was a maddening situation, but finally being able to publish Albion has calmed my nerves (and hair, which had been standing on end) significantly.
In Art, Paul reveals a hitherto unknown side of Reynolds’ portraits, as discussed in Mark Hallett’s book Portraiture in Action, and shows how art-historical research can shed new light on well-known pictures. He also reviews the current blockbuster exhibition at Tate Britain, Queer British Art, which is the first major attempt to group together works by homosexual artists up until decriminalisation in 1967.
Speaking of important anniversaries, you’ve been living under a rock if you don’t know that 2017 marks 500 years since Martin Luther ignored the ‘post no bills’ warning on a church door in Wittenberg and sparked the Reformation. It therefore seemed apposite for Mark to review Peter Marshall’s magisterial overview of the English Reformation, which covers it in all its messiness, hideous sectarian strife, and eventual compromises. Not entirely unconnected, the phenomenon of Medievalism in modern English culture sometimes hearkened back wistfully to a medieval Catholic world of stained glass and feudal hierarchies, and this is the subject of another book —by Michael Alexander— considered by Mark in this edition. Books also contains Mary’s assessment of the children’s novel An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden (also responsible for a number of adult works, including the notorious Black Narcissus), a touching story about poverty and child life in post-war London.
The Guyanese author E. R Braithwaite, best-known for To Sir, With Love, passed away last year at the grand old age of 104. As next year marks another major anniversary --seventy years since the arrival of the WIndrush-- I decided to revisit his first two books. These are fascinating slices of social history for myriad reasons, not least because they capture the experiences of some of the first arrivals, in a period of adjustment which has been insufficiently documented.
In the Cinema section, Neil revisits the poignant 1980s Liverpudlian romantic comedy Letter to Brezhnev, recently reissued by the BFI, and I enjoy the new Stuart Staples compilation of F. Percy Smith’s nature films, Minute Bodies.
It is (unbelievably) eleven years since I interviewed Em Marshall-Luck (then Em Marshall) about the English Music Festival in its debut year. It was therefore high time to check in with her again and talk about all that has happened in the interim, and Mark's interview with her can be found in the Music section. Also in Music, James finds some intriguing and obscure folk and progressive rock reissues, while Em reviews a number of new releases and some archive recordings.
We hope that you enjoy this edition, and thank you for your patience. Internet permitting, the winter edition will appear in a more timely fashion.--The Editor