Friday, 10 October 2008
Literary ley lines
Lots of strange convergences over the last couple of days. My friend Paul sent me a link to a blog which explores the work of Arnold Toynbee (which I’ll get back to you about Paul!). The same day, I saw Toynbee mentioned in the book I’m currently reading – Where Man Belongs by the English inter-war rural writer and social thinker H.J. Massingham. Massingham, although spending much of his working life as a writer and journalist had some archaeological training and indeed in the same book he mentions O.G.S. Crawford, pioneer aerial photographer and founder of Antiquity. On Wednesday I got the recent and excellently reviewed new biography of Crawford by Kitty Hauser (which I hope to blog about shortly). Massingham was also closely involved in a fascinating nexus of thinkers and rural writers between the 1930s and 1950, which included Adrian Bell (father of Martin Bell), with whom he formed Kinship_in_Husbandry, a kind of proto-think tank opposed to the industrialisation of agriculture and promoting organic farming. It was one of the precursors of the Soil Association. This curious organisation straddled the traditional left/right divide and many of its founders were interested in the notions of social credit, Guild Socialism and Distributism (an economic philosophy formulated by Catholic thinkers such as Belloc and Chesterton). One of the key thinkers in Kinship in Husbandry was Rolf Gardiner, who made an appearance in yesterday’s Guardian, cited as a key figure in developing youth movements in Britain. Literary ley lines in action….