Visions of England by Roy Strong - review by Fred Inglis

Fred Inglis

Green & Pleasant Land

Visions of England


The Bodley Head 232pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

Roy Strong, knight bachelor, elegant and endearing eccentric and patriot, has in his time done the state some service. He has been the director of both the National Portrait Gallery and then the V&A, perhaps the friendliest and, because the most domestic, best-loved of our national mansions of art. In 1987 he resigned this last office to become a familiar, amiable dandy of television art and the custodian of a low-key and winning version of herbivorous national feeling. In books such as The Story of Britain (1998) and The Spirit of Britain (1999) he found enough to celebrate without too much baying from the dogs of war, nor too much elision of past misery and injustice.

Now, in age, he buds again, on the same topic. Visions of England isn't a lengthy book, and he says he hopes it may be read ‘at a sitting’. He begins by asking ‘What is England?’, and answers with an imaginative recreation of her history, art, architecture and

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