The eye-opening history of naturism in 20th century Britain is the subject of a new book by Fashion and Design History lecturer Dr Annebella Pollen.
Entitled Nudism in a Cold Climate, Dr Pollen’s study provides an in-depth look at the fascinating and often idiosyncratic phenomenon of British social nudism (or naturism) from the 1920s to the 1970s, drawing on wide-ranging imagery and testimony by those who cast their clothes to the biting British wind.
The book casts a critical eye over a period when thousands of people appeared unclothed in publications associated with the nudist movement – drawing attention to the cause, attracting public curiosity and inciting moral panics. Naturist nude photography offers a fascinating lens on moral, legal and aesthetic shifts over a period of dramatic social change, including beliefs about sex and gender, ethnicity and class, pleasure and power.
Dr Pollen’s first book, Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life, explored 55,000 snapshots taken on a single day in 1987, while The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians examined the modernist art and occult spirituality of dissident scoutmasters in 1920s England.
Nudism in a Cold Climate offers readers a fascinating glimpse behind British veils of propriety and a unique view inside an enduring culture that sought to liberate and ultimately transform conventional attitudes to bodies and their representations.