The Dawn of Green
Harriet Ritvo (Girton 1968)
The University of Chicago Press
Located in the heart of England’s Lake District, Thirlmere, with its placid sheen, surrounding evergreens, and apparent lack of pollution or development, seems to epitomize the unadulterated bucolic ideal. But under its calm surface lurks the enduring legacy of a nineteenth-century conflict that pitted industrial progress against natural conservation—and helped launch the environmental movement as we know it.
Purchased by the city of Manchester in the 1870s, Thirlmere was dammed and converted into a reservoir, its water piped 100 miles south to the burgeoning industrial city and its workforce. This feat of civil engineering—and of natural resource diversion—inspired one of the first environmental struggles of modern times.
The Dawn of Green recreates the battle for Thirlmere and the clashes between conservationists who wished to preserve the lake and developers eager to supply the needs of industry and a growing urban population. Bringing to vivid life the colorful and strong-minded characters who populated both sides of the debate, noted historian Harriet Ritvo revisits notions of the natural promulgated by Romantic poets, recreationists, resource managers, and industrial developers to establish Thirlmere as the template for subsequent—and continuing—environmental struggles.
A century after Thirlmere, the demand for water and the control of water rights are among the most pressing political, humanitarian, and environmental concerns of our time. By investigating Victorian ideas about industry, development, and technology, Ritvo shows how the lessons learned in the Lake District can inform and guide modern environmental and conservation campaigns.
Publication Date: 15 October 2009
Buy online at Heffers
Added: 11 January 2010
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