Utopia Britannica - British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

Utopian Bibilography


BEST STARTING POINTS  -   Must reads for the utopian traveller.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS - Getting in deeper.

NEW PUBLICATIONS - 'Hot' of the presses of utopia.



The books listed are the best starting points for anyone interested in finding out more about the communities mentioned in Utopia Britannica.

Heavens Below: Utopian experiments in England 1560-1960.
W.H.G. Armytage.
Routledge and Kegan Paul 1961 - Out of print.
Professor Armytage's seminal work is a 'lucid and fascinating history of "ideal settlements" from the days of the Levellers to the Garden City.' Until the 1970s Heavens Below was the only work on utopian experiments and is still much referred to and quoted. Armytage wrote widely on the subject of utopias and many of his articles and pamphlets can be found in library collections. Heavens Below is meticulously researched and referenced and was the starting point for much of the research carried out for Utopia Britannica.

Villages of Vision. A study of Strange Utopias.
Gillian Darley
The Architectural Press 1975. (2nd Ed Paladin/Granada 1978) Out of Print.
All over Britain there are villages that were artificially introduced - strange or pretty arcadias invented for aesthetic, philanthropic or political reasons, for convenience and for ideals, built by conscience-stricken aristocrats, industrialists, by idealists and by landscape gardeners seeking the right effect. Villages of Vision charts the development and growth of these communities, where the Englishman's desire for `a place in the country' has resulted in a curious mixture of romance and megalomania.

Alternative Communities in Nineteenth Century England.
Dennis Hardy
Longmans.London 1979. Out of Print.
Detailed study of utopian communities, communal religious sects and back-to-the-land initiatives from the 1800s. Hardy’s study includes in-depth profiles of many communities with maps, historic & contemporary photographs and illustrations, along with analyses of the various movements that gave rise to them.

The Architectural and Social History of Co-operative Living.
Lynn F. Pearson
Macmillan Press. 1988. Out of Print.
The Co-operative Housekeeping movement of the 19th & 20th centuries set out to improve women’s lives through domestic revolution. The co-operative home, with private rooms centred on a core of communal facilities was to take the place of the private house. The movement was connected to the Garden City and Arts & Crafts movements. The book traces the history of the movement and includes details of a number of Co-operative Housekeeping schemes carried out in the UK.

The Good & Simple Life. Artists Colonies in Europe and America.
Michael Jacobs.
Phiadon.1985. Out of Print.
In the 2nd half of the 19th century, a growing interest in outdoor painting caused groups of artists to settle in village communities to live & work. The study of these 'artist colonies' throws new light on the major artistic developments in Europe and America at the time. The movement is examined through descriptions of colonies in France, Scandinavia, Russia, Germany, Hungary, Britain and the USA. A vivid narrative of life in the colonies reveals personal conflicts and adolescent antics which belie the ideals of the movement.

Designing Utopia. John Ruskin's Urban Vision for Britain and America.
Michael H. Lang
Black Rose Books. 1999. www.web.net/blackrosebooks.
Designing Utopia presents a broad overview of John Ruskin's life; the development of his views on architecture and urban design, as well as his views on social justice; how his vision was developed from his writings; and his efforts at practical application of that vision. It also looks at the work of a long line of progressive architects and planners and the buildings and communities they designed.

Utopian England. Community Experiments 1900-1945.
Dennis Hardy
E. &F.N. Spon. 2000. Available from bookshops.
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. Utopian England explores this fascinating history of utopian ideals, the lives of those pursued them, and the utopian communities they created.



Left wing democracy in the English Civil War. D.W Petegorsky Gollancz 1940
Unbridled Spirits. Women of the English Revolution. Stevie Davies Womens press 1998
The Second Coming. Popular Millenarianism 1780-1850. JFC Harrison. Routlege & Kegan Paul.1979
The Peoples Farm. English Radical Agrarianism 1775-1840.Malcom Chase. Clarendon Press 1988.
Co-operation & the Owenite socialist communities in Britian1825-45. RG Garnett. MUP 1972.
Robert Owen & the Owenites in Britian & America. JFC Harrison. Routledge&Kegan Paul.1969.
Eve & the New Jerusalem. Barbara Taylor. Virago 1983
The Chartist Land Company. Alice Mary Hadfield. David & Charles: Newton Abbot. 1970.
William Morris. Fiona MacCarthy. Faber & Faber. 1994.
The Simple Life: CR Ashbee in the Cotswolds. Fiona MacCarthy. Lund Humphries. 1981
A Question of Conscience: Conscientious objection in the two world wars. F.Goodall. Sutton.1997
The Betws-y-Coed Artists Colony. P.Lord National Library of Wales 1998.
Madame Blavatsky's Baboon:Theosophy & the emergence of the Western Guru. Secker &Warburg.1993
Search for a New Eden:James Pierrepont Greaves:The Sacred Socialist and his followers J.Latham. Dickinson UP1999
The Slow Burning Fuse : The Lost History of British Anarchists. John Quail. Paladin books. 1978
Roses & Revolutionists. The Story of Clousden Hill. Nigel Todd. Peoples Publications. 1986.
Demanding the Impossible : History of Anarchism. Peter Marshall. Fontana 1993.
Whiteway Colony : The Social History of a Tolstoyan Community. Joy Thacker. Whiteway. 1993.
Fit for Heroes: Land Settlement in Scotland after WW1. Leah Leneman. Aberdeen UP 1989
Homes fit for Heroes. Mark Swenarton. Heinemann. 1981
Back to the Land : The pastoral impulse in Victorian England. Jan Marsh. Quartet Books 1982




Recently published books on intentional communities and utopian experiments



Cotters and Squatters: the hidden history of housing. Colin Ward
196 pages ISBN: 0 907123 198 £9.99
The hidden history of unofficial settlements links the cottagers squatting the 'wastes' in the enclosure of the commons with the issues raised by 20th century squatters & the 21st century claims that 'This Land is Ours'.

"Ward is not averse to a little squalor, or at least untidiness. The modern countryside is altogether too neatly packaged and sewn-up for the benefits of the well-off, he feels. Overzealous planning laws, and what he calls "the suffocating nimbyism of the countryside lobby, with its Range Rover culture", are dismissed as an affront to rural history. His new book is an exploration of the long struggle of the rural poor to acquire and keep a roof over their heads."
The Guardian

Available From ; Fiveleaves Publications


No Shadows Fall: The Story of Spielplatz
Isuelt Richardson. £10.50
An amazing autobiography that chronicles the life of Speilplatz the only naturist community in the UK.

'this is no run of the mill story - but an inspirational message to all those who wish for a better life for themselves and their children. The Dreamers have shown us the way - all we have to do is to follow"


Available From ; Edge of Time

Upminster the Story of a Garden Suburb
By: Tony Benton with Albert Parish
Printed By: Britton Wallant Printers Ltd, Rainham 1996 ISBN 0-9529359-0-2
The Story of Upminster Garden Suburb

Available from : Swan Books


Brentham: a history of the pioneer garden suburb 1901-2001
The history of the first one hundred years of Brentham Garden Suburb the pioneer Co-partnership development in Ealing London

"Now and then, a work of local history so far transcends the parish pump as to illumine a whole movement or even an era. Such is Aileen Reid's Brentham ... [It] quietly revolutionises the historiography of the garden city and suburb ... [a] masterly study ... a generous and beautiful ... first-rate book with far wider than local interest."

Available from: The Brentham Society Website



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