An often maligned county, Essex’s recent history has been the subject of many stereotypes. A new book, Radical Essex, seeks to tell another story, exploring the dynamic relationship between London’s East End and radical experiments in living, whether in rural enclaves or on the desolate marshes. This is a story of socialist and anarchist land colonies, Christian and Tolstoyan retreats, and the county as the home of modernist architecture in Britain and model industrial communities. Two of the book’s authors, Gillian Darley & Ken Worpole, discuss the many utopian experiments in living to be re-discovered in the county’s radical history, now too often forgotten.
Gillian Darley is a widely published writer and broadcaster. Her publications include Villages of Vision (1975/2007), John Soane (1999), John Evelyn (2006), Octavia Hill (2010) and Ian Nairn: Words in Place with David McKie (2013). She is President of the Twentieth-Century Society.
Ken Worpole is the author of books on architecture, landscape and public policy, including two collaborations with photographer Jason Orton on the social history and landscape of coastal Essex: 350 Miles & The New English Landscape. His most recent book is New Jerusalem: The Good City and the Good Society (2017). A long-term resident in Hackney, he was described by The Independent as ‘one of the shrewdest and sharpest observers of the English social landscape.’