Pevsner: The BBC Years gives the first full account of Sir Nikolaus Pevsner’s engagement with the BBC at a time when both were the dominant institutions in their own fields -- Pevsner as the most persuasive figure in architecture and art history, the BBC as the country's sole broadcaster. A German emigré, Pevsner was not at first trusted to speak on the air, and was only invited to appear at the very end of the war, in spite of his growing eminence in academia and publishing. With the arrival of the Third Programme in 1946, however, he quickly became a broadcasting celebrity, and one whom senior BBC figures regarded as essential and novel listening. Pevsner: The BBC Years looks at the sudden rise in Pevsner’s standing at the BBC, at what he was admired for, and at the circumstances surrounding his being commissioned, in the mid-1950s, to give the first series of Reith Lectures on an arts subject -- the relationship between visual expression and national identity. The book explains the roles played by Geoffrey Grigson, Basil Taylor, Anna Kallin and Leonie Cohn in advancing Pevsner's BBC career, analyses the literary character of his broadcasting, and considers the function of his talks as an extension of European belletrism. It also demonstrates the significance of his concurrent editorship of the King Penguin series of books. In addition, Pevsner: The BBC Years documents the unravelling of Pevsner's reputation. It shows how he was caught between changing fashions in media culture and damaged by doubts about the safety of his ideas, both within the BBC and, externally, among British conservatives who found him too radical and American radicals who found him too conservative. In Pevsner: The BBC Years, correspondence from the BBC’s archives provides a case study of scholarly thought being exposed to independent scrutiny -- a process with lessons for today.

part |2 pages


chapter 1|4 pages


chapter 2|10 pages

A German in London

chapter 3|6 pages

Georey Grigson

chapter 4|10 pages

The BBC at War

chapter 5|16 pages

First Broadcasts

chapter 6|16 pages

The Third Programme

chapter 7|8 pages

The First Four Years

chapter 8|12 pages

King Penguins

chapter 9|18 pages

Into the Fifties

chapter 10|22 pages

The Reith Lectures

chapter 11|18 pages

Fallout from the Reiths

chapter 12|16 pages

His Last Gasp

part |2 pages


chapter 13|6 pages

Audience Response

chapter 14|28 pages

Press Response

chapter 15|12 pages

Critical Response

chapter 16|26 pages

Pevsner’s Language

chapter 17|16 pages

The Changing Character of the BBC

chapter 18|8 pages

Pevsner’s Vulnerability—a Test Case

chapter 19|10 pages

Pevsner’s Producers and Englishness

chapter 20|16 pages