C. R. Ashbee

Architect, Designer, and Romantic Socialist

Alan Crawford

View Inside Price: $45.00


September 1, 2005
512 pages, 6 3/4 x 9 1/2
200 b/w + 20 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300109399
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

Charles Robert Ashbee—architect, designer, social reformer, and a major force behind the Arts and Crafts Movement—was one of the most significant figures in British artistic and cultural life at the turn of the century. Inspired by the Romantic anti-industrialism of John Ruskin and William Morris, Ashbee started a small craft workshop in the East End of London in 1888 called the Guild of Handicraft. He not only made it a place where work could be satisfying and creative, but in 1902 boldly moved the Guild’s workshops out to the idyllic Cotswold town of Chipping Campden. Utilizing the often vivid journals kept by Ashbee and his wife, Janet, the book documents Ashbee’s life and work, the story of the Guild, and the part Ashbee played in a wide range of reform movements.

Alan Crawford is a freelance writer.

"The book . . . breathe[s] life into the dried bones of architectural biography and opens up our knowledge of the architecture of this period to the full force of history and culture. In its range and understanding, C.R. ASHBEE sets the standard for all architectural biography that will come after it." —Lynne Walker, AA Files

"This is a book worth waiting for: it is a magnificent contribution—wonderfully written, beautifully produced and illustrated. It tells us so much about so many aspects of British life from the late nineteenth century. . . . This superb book tells in loving detail one of the most important stories of the English Arts & Crafts movement." —Peter Stansky, Albion

"An exemplary critical biography of this major figure in the Arts and crafts movement."—George P. Landow, American Historical Review

"This study is an attempt to see Ashbee and his work, not as part of a process which reached its culmination in the achievements of the Modern Movement, but in its own right. . . . Substantial and informative. . . . Crawford's book is comprehensive and scholarly."—Nicolete Gray, Apollo Magazine

"Crawford's study of that unsettling, strange bundle of contradictions and creativity Charles Robert Ashbee . . . is in the first place a labour of Herculean proportions, involving assiduous research in the most disparate and even esoteric sources, densely, but cogently and lucidly written, it has the additional advantage of being beautifully produced in an elegant typeface, which hints at without imitating the typographical elegancies of art nouveau."—Art & Artists

"Densely, but cogently and lucidly written, it has the additional advantage of being beautifully produced in an elegant typeface. . . . This remarkable study of him throws a great deal of light not only on his period, but on the nature and quality of the English attitude to art, design and indeed society."—Art and Artists

"[A] splendid and finely designed and printed book. . . . Alan Crawford has written an excellent full-scale biography in elegant style."—Richard E. Friedman, Art Documentation

"A splendid and monumental study of this engaging polymath."—Peter Parker, Books & Booksmen

"An excellent comprehensive study. . . . A pleasure to read. . . . There are few monographs that one can unreservedly recommend to historians, designers and connoisseurs alike but this is one of them. It is a beautifully produced book that enhances our understanding not only of Ashbee but also of the English Arts and Craft Movement and its appeal abroad."—Pat Kirkham, British Book News

"Crawford's volume is a joy to read, and the quality of his writing is matched by the quality of the black-and-white and color illustrations accompanying the text."—David Gebhard, Design Book Review

"Crawford's book achieves its ambitions and is an invaluable addition to the literature of the history of design."—Donald Bush, Design Issues

"Intelligently designed and beautifully printed. . . . The life of C.R. Ashbee, especially as treated by Alan Crawford, justifies the attention of anyone interested in the social, artistic and intellectual upheavals of the decades before the First World War. . . . Crawford treats the extensive life of Ashbee with quiet sympathy and meticulous knowledge, with the result that his career and works now stand in as good a light as they are ever likely to."—Robert Thorne, History Today

"A highly informative biography examining Ashbee's complicated life and pioneering work as architect and designer. . . . Crawford's exhaustive study merits the attention of architectural historians, art historians, and anyone seriously interested in Victorian culture."—Stephen Sennott, Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies

"A remarkable biography. . . . [Crawford] has managed to integrate the life of his subject with the theories and opinions which motivated this attractive and energetic character."—Trevor Russell-Cobb, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts

"Handsomely designed and nicely organized, is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature now available on the British Arts and Crafts movement. . . . Ashbee now has this monumental history, and we can appreciate him even more today, on his own terms."—James D. Kornwolf, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

"Admirable."—Peter Campbell, London Review of Books

"[An] ambitious and critically balanced biography of C.R. Ashbee, a prominent figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement in late Victorian England."—David Masello, Metropolis

"An exemplary critical biography of this major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement."—George P. Landow, Modern Europe

"Alan Crawford's honest treatment of Ashbee's unrigorous intellectualism and quirky personality is exemplary; the man and the work are judged with equal insight. Biography, let alone art history, rarely reads this well."—Gillian Darley, New Society

"[It] provide[s] effortless reading, which, together with the book's visual appeal, make it a delight to peruse."—Stefan Muthesius, Oxford Art Journal

"Crawford has rescued him in a book displaying such a depth of scholarship and such a wide-ranging grasp of the man and his times, that it may be said that Ashbee, often unlucky in life, has been fortunate in posterity. . . . The whole stands not just as the record of one man's achievement, it is also a brilliant piece of social history which captures the feel of an epoch."—Helen Meller, Planning Perspectives

"For the first time we have a book that gives the Arts and Crafts Movement the stature it deserves. . . . It is a passionate book . . . and makes for compulsive reading."—Margaret Richardson, Society of Architectural Historians

"Crawford has written an extensive biography of this tireless reformer using Ashbee's—and his wife Janet's—journals to give a vivid picture of his life. . . . It is a well illustrated and researched assessment of this important and interesting figure."—The Antique Collector

"Crawford is enormously knowledgeable about the Arts and Crafts movement and because he places Ashbee's work in context the book becomes a history of important aspects of the movement. Finally, it is splendidly designed, produced and illustrated."—Godfrey Rubens, The Architects' Journal

"An essential work of reference for everybody involved with the decorative arts since Pugin and Morris." —Peyton Skipwith, The Burlington Magazine

"Elaborately organized into three parts. . . . C.R. ASHBEE succeeds in evaluating a complex individual as a person and as a historical phenomenon. . . . Grand as an art book, moving as a biography, and fascinating as cultural history, C.R. ASHBEE illuminates our world."—Thomas D'Evelyn, The Christian Science Monitor

"A monumental study."—Janet Marsh, The Financial Times

"Definitive and perceptive."—Mark Girouard, The Guardian

"This book is exhaustively researched but never boring or pedantic. . . . Mr. Crawford's analysis of Ashbee's architecture is particularly revealing. . . . In this portrait of one man, he [Crawford] has given us a most perceptive account of the Arts and Crafts movement as a whole, of its theoretical background, of its idealism, of its contradictions and absurdity, of its essential decency."—Gavin Stamp, The Sunday Times

"As a dedicated feat of exhumation this book ranks in its scope and its importance with Thomas Howarth's rediscovery of Mackintosh back in the early fifties; and it establishes Alan Crawford as the best writer on the Arts and Crafts around."—Fiona MacCarthy, The Times

"This is an outstanding book: beautifully designed and printed, splendidly illustrated, and a pleasure to read—closely observed, humanly sensitive, shrewd, unpedantic but remarkably well informed and researched."—Paul Thompson, Times Literary Supplement




"Crawford writes about this colorful life with the care it needs—literacy, humor, imagination, and information. This is a readable book."—Robert Winter, Victorian Studies

"Crawfords's book will be the standard biography. . . . Beautifully illustrated and designed, the book is worthy of its subject, filled with Crawford's astute judgments on Ashbee's work and a sympathetic portrayal of the man, his friendships and loves, his dreams and accomplishments."—Eileen Boris, Winterthur Portfolio

"A book of this quality is a tonic for the disappointments of civilisation. . . . Stimulating. . . . A triumph of book production, delightful to look at. . . . This is the first in-depth biography of Ashbee in his many guises and can only be regarded as definitive." —Keith Nicholson

Winner of the 1986 Duff Cooper Memorial Prize given for a work excelling in the field of biography, history, politics or poetry

Winner of the 1986 Henry Russell Hitchcock Book Award in the field of 19th century studies