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Cover for Spirit of Place

Spirit of Place

Artists, Writers & The British Landscape

Susan Owens


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Lyrical and compelling, Spirit of Place examines the British landscape as it’s portrayed in literature and art.

English landscape painting is often said to be an eighteenth-century invention, yet when we look for representations of the countryside in British art and literature, we find a story that begins with Old English poetry and winds its way through history, all the way up to the present day.

In Spirit of Place, Susan Owens illuminates how the British landscape has been framed, reimagined, and reshaped by generations of creative thinkers. To offer a panoramic view of the countryside throughout history, Owens dives into the work of writers and artists from Bede and the Gawain Poet to Thomas Gainsborough, Jane Austen, J. M. W. Turner, and John Constable, and from Paul Nash and Barbara Hepworth to Robert Macfarlane. Richly illustrated, including manuscript pages, early maps, paintings, film stills, and photographs, Spirit of Place is a compelling narrative of how we have been shown the British landscape.

Thames & Hudson, 9780500252307, 320pp.

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

About the Author

Susan Owens is an art historian and curator who has worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal Collection Trust, and has worked with Tate, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is the author of The Ghost: A Cultural History and The Art of Drawing: British Masters and Methods since 1600, and co-author of Christina Rossetti and Amazing Rare Things.