The Warm South How the Mediterranean Shaped the British Imagination Robert Holland

Publication date:
28 Aug 2018
Yale University Press
336 pages: 235 x 156mm
30 color illus.

An evocative exploration of the impact of the Mediterranean on British culture, ranging from the mid-eighteenth century to today

Ever since the age of the Grand Tour in the eighteenth century, the Mediterranean has had a significant pull for Britons—including many painters and poets—who sought from it the inspiration, beauty, and fulfillment that evaded them at home. Referred to as “Magick Land” by one traveler, dreams about the Mediterranean, and responses to it, went on to shape the culture of a nation.
Written by one of the world’s leading historians of the Mediterranean, this book charts how a new sensibility arose from British engagement with the Mediterranean, ancient and modern. Ranging from Byron’s poetry to Damien Hirst’s installations, Robert Holland shows that while idealized visions and aspirations often met with disillusionment and frustration, the Mediterranean also offered a notably insular society the chance to enrich itself through an imagined world of color, carnival, and sensual self-discovery.

Robert Holland is one of the world’s leading historians of the Mediterranean. He is visiting professor at the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s College London.

"‘In The Warm South, Robert Holland draws on a huge range of literature, art, memoir and biography to capture with extraordinary precision the often contradictory influences of the Mediterranean on British cultural, public and private life. Written with style and wit, and alive with sharply drawn personalities, it engages the reader irresistibly."— John Darwin, author of After Tamerlane: A Global History of Empire 

"Scholarly and accessible, The Warm South is an absorbing exploration of where the heat, light and history of the Mediterranean have taken the British imagination, through dreams of excess and salvation."—Jason Goodwin, author of Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire

 "The Warm South is an ambitious work – and Holland is undoubtedly the scholar who can pull it off."—Rosemary Ashton, author of One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858