Simon Heffer

Buildingsroman

Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life

By

Chatto & Windus 834pp £30 order from our bookshop

Nikolaus Pevsner means only one thing to millions of people: The Buildings of England. The series is synonymous with him, or vice versa. Between the late 1940s and the early 1970s Pevsner, later assisted by one or two trusted writers, drove the length and breadth of England trying to spot as many buildings as he could of aesthetic or historical interest (the two were not inevitably the same). He often feared he would die before he completed the task, and he did not keep his health for very long beyond the publication of Staffordshire, the final volume. The early volumes were superficial and, by his own admission, not always adequate. By the time of his death, high-class revisions and expansions had made the series widely feted. Now, volumes several times the size of their originals make these definitive works of reference.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,