2014 Roy Porter Lecture: Healthy Lives/Healthy World – Utopian Visions in Interwar Britain

Image copyright: The Wellcome Collection 2014
Image copyright: The Wellcome Collection 2014

Wednesday 14 May 2014, 18.30-19.30

By Dr Lesley A Hall, FRHistS, Senior Archivist, Wellcome Library

Texts from the first half of the 20th century routinely mocked and even reviled an inchoate group perceived as cranky eccentrics for their weird and possibly unBritish beliefs and practices. They held odd theories about food and eating; their mode of dress was unconventional; instead of playing traditional sports they pursued such quirky forms of body culture as nudism and yoga; they subjected their offspring to experimental education and membership of the Woodcraft Folk; they had curious and subversive views about sex.

This derided group of self-defined progressives had a vision of the good society involving a broad spectrum of changes to lifestyle issues, as well as in the political system. A significant element in their beliefs and practices was the idea that health, mental and physical, was not just absence of illness, and could be achieved via a diverse (and sometimes contradictory) range of individual and collective interventions. This holistic vision of wellbeing intersected with wider political aims for a peaceful, prosperous and fairer world.

This lecture endeavours to redeem interwar progressives from what is not so much the condescension of posterity as the ridicule of their contemporaries and to suggest the wider relevance of their utopian dreams.

Speaker: Dr Lesley Hall, Senior Archivist, Wellcome Library.

This event is FREE. Tickets will become available below from 11.00 on Friday 25 April. For more information please visit the Wellcome Trust website.

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