Dame Fiona Reynolds - The Fight for Beauty

8 Nov 2017

For our third speaker of Michaelmas CUGS proudly welcomes Dame Fiona Reynolds, where she will deliver a talk based on her recent book "The Fight for Beauty" - outlined below. Dame Fiona is the former Director-General of the National Trust and previously Director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England as well as Secretary to the Council for National Parks.


The Fight for Beauty

In a world where, it too often seems, only the economy matters, we have forgotten how important beauty is to our lives. It’s a word rarely used in official language today, yet in the past beauty has mattered enough for people to fight for it and for governments to respond.

This book charts the story of the fight for beauty from the moment Wordsworth’s devotion to it tipped from admiration into defence, as his beloved Lake District came under threat from suburbanising villas, the spiky-leaved larch and the thundering railway. Ruskin took up the fight for beauty and inspired a generation of campaigners, leading to the foundation of the conservation movement in Britain. Then, following the Second World War, beauty was at the heart of the objectives of a government determined to build a better, fairer Britain for all those who had come through two devastating conflicts.

Drawing on these stories and her own as a campaigner for beauty, Fiona Reynolds describes how beauty has been fought for, diminished, revived and marginalised as our country has been through the processes of change. Looking at the beauty of landscape, nature and cultural heritage, she charts how industrialisation and urbanisation, and the commercialisation of farming and forestry have posed repeated threats to beauty, and how those who love it have fought for and defended it. Moreover it shows how, with the help of beauty, these tensions can be reconciled.


Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography
Free for CUGS members, £2 on the door for non-members


Publicity photo courtesy of David Levinson