The E-BNR aims to build a comprehensive & unique cross-artform guide to
the British neo-Romantic tradition,
from 1880 to the present day.
While the British Romantics of 1789-1824 have spawned a vast industry of
publishers, conferences & tourism, the later neo-Romantic traditions
remain largely neglected. The E-BNR is aimed at bringing this hidden
tradition to light.
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WHAT IS NEO-ROMANTICISM ?
Neo-Romantic artists have drawn their inspiration
from artists of the age of Romanticism or earlier.
Characteristic themes in their work include a
mystical approach to the British landscape...
ENTRY: English Underground
English underground is a phrase used by those who study and chronicle the arts
history of England, especially the musical traditions. It usually refers to popular musicians who have
benefited from acquiring the sensibility of native English folk song, as that tradition has been passed
down through the generations, often without any formal conveyance.
It was first identified by the neo-romantic historian E.P. Thompson in 1963, in his seminal The Making of the
English Working Class...
"We must remember the 'underground' of the ballad singer and the fairground which handed on traditions
to the nineteenth century (to the music hall, or Dickens' circus folk or Hardy's pedlars and showmen);
for in these ways the 'inarticulate' [masses of people] conserve certain values - a spontaneity and
capacity for enjoyment and mutual loyalties - despite the inhibiting pressures of magistrates, mill-owners,
The phrase was used, in slightly wider cultural sense than just music, by Jonathon Green in his book
Days In The Life: Voices from the English Underground, 1961-1971 (1988). This was a collection
of first-hand accounts of the 1960s pop & rock -based 'underground' counter-culture in England;
a counter-culture that often drew on carnivalesque traditions, music hall styles of entertainment, and
a mystical appreciation of the English landscape.
The term is now often used among educated music fans, to identify a modern song-writing tradition which
is usually taken to arise into the past thirty years via the work of Syd Barrett, Robert Wyatt and
Nick Drake. Wire magazine also regularly applies the term to the gothic-tinged neo-romantic
'post-industrial' music of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Coil, Current 93 and others -
"a shadowy scene whose work accents peculiarities of Englishness through the links and
affinities they've forged with earlier generations of the island's marginals and outsiders."
The term has since been applied to the wider 'underground currents' by which essentially English
romantic popular-cultural forms have been conveyed down through the generations, and into
different art forms than music.