Your cart
is currently empty

A Tonic To The Nation


Price: £35.00


The Festival of Britain, 1951 - to some, a glorious ‘monument to the future’, to others, a tawdry carnival which set British design on the wrong course for years - is for many their most vivid memory of the post-war period in Britain. It was a gesture of defiance in the face of austerity. It put a nation still reeling from war, and still suffering the rigours of rationing, on public parade. Its buildings, including the saucer-shaped Dome of Discovery and the silvery Skylon, apparently suspended in thin air, had a space-age novelty. Its Pleasure Gardens gave jaded Britons, starved of fun, a chance to let their hair down. This book will fascinate not only those who remember the Festival, and have an intense nostalgia for it; it will also give a new generation, including many unborn in 1951, an appreciation of the most memorable public event of the 1950s.

The editors of the book, Mary Banham and Bevis Hillier (joint organizers of the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum to which the book is closely related) have compiled a symposium, partly of accounts by leading organizers and designers of the Festival; partly of recollections - analytical, amusing or very personal - by casual visitors and helpers; partly of objective assessments by present­ day scholars, some too young to have experienced the Festival. These historians ask: did the Festival begin an age or end one? was it too paternalistic? how far was it a political manoeuvre? The Festival is set squarely in its historical perspective - back­wards, to the Renaissance; forwards, to our own time, again in need of ‘A Tonic to the Nation’ (the phrase used by Sir Gerald Barry, Director General of the Festival, to epitomize its main aim).

This is a superb account of the Festival of Britain. It was published in 1976 on the 25th anniversary of the festival to accompany an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The book is crammed with recollections from many big names associated with the festival - such as Gerald Barry, Mischa Black, Hugh Casson, etc - and comments from ordinary people who visited the event.

PLEASE NOTE: All the copies have been purchased from high-class antique book dealers and are therefore of good quality. Second hand books are however subject to the usual problems - light foxing and / or lightly stained pages, loose or missing spines and the page edges, etc may not be perfect. Where available the jackets may not be perfect (and we may not have any in stock with a jacket). The pages are always fully secure. The best available copy of the book will always be sent.

200 pages. Paperback 196 illustrations