"Landscapes of London" by Elizabeth McKellar

Landscapes of London The City, the Country, and the Suburbs, 1660–1840 Elizabeth McKellar

Publication date:
15 Dec 2013
Paul Mellon Centre
276 pages: 286 x 241mm
24 color + 120 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The idea of a "Greater London" emerged in the 18th century with the expansion of the city's suburbs. In Landscapes of London, Elizabeth McKellar traces this growth back to the 17th century, when domestic retreats were established in outlying areas. This transitional zone was occupied and shaped by the urban middle class as much as by the elite who built villas there. McKellar provides the first major interdisciplinary cultural history of this area, analyzing it in relation to key architectural and planning debates and to concepts of national, social, and gender identities. She draws on a wide range of source materials, including prints, paintings, maps, poetry, songs, newspapers, guidebooks, and other popular literature, as well as buildings and landscapes. The author suggests that these suburban landscapes—the first in the world—were a new environment, but one in which the vernacular, the rustic, and the historic played a substantial part. This fascinating investigation shows London as the forerunner of the complex, multifaceted modern cities of today.

Elizabeth McKellar is senior lecturer and staff tutor in the history of art, Open University. 

"Elizabeth McKellar is one of the most perceptive and sensible of architectural historians, and she understands London like few others. Her new book Landscapes of London will be important because we now know so much architectural innovation stemmed from cities and the mercantile classes that lived in them."—Simon Thurley, BBC History Magazine

Book of the Year, TLS

‘That rare thing, a scholarly volume of interest to the non-specialist. Tracing suburbia since the 17th century, McKellar shows historic London as the forerunner of today’s culturally and architecturally complex, multi-faceted cities; she made me look at the layers of the city I thought I knew with fresh eyes.’—Jackie Wullschlager, The Financial Times

"This book, a major contribution to cultural history, establishes that a suburban culture existed in London's rural-urban interface much earlier than the early-19th-century time period posited by conventional scholarship. McKellar employs a variety of sources, including guidebooks, art, music, and literature, to document the culture of the inhabitants of the suburban landscape that emerged in this zone in the 17th century."—E.H. Teague, CHOICE

Winner of the 2017 Elisabeth MacDougall Book Award by the Society of Architecture Historians.