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Octavia Hill

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 07 April 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Victorian social reformer Octavia Hill.

From the 1850s until her death in 1912, Octavia Hill was an energetic campaigner who did much to improve the lot of impoverished city dwellers. She was a pioneer of social housing who believed that there were better and more humane ways of arranging accommodation for the poor than through the state. Aided at first by her friend John Ruskin, the essayist and art critic, she bought houses and let them to the urban dispossessed.

Octavia Hill provided an early model of social work, did much to preserve urban open spaces, and was the first to use the term 'green belt' to describe the rural areas around London. She was also one of the founders of the National Trust. Yet her vision of social reform, involving volunteers and private enterprise rather than central government, was often at odds with that of her contemporaries.

With:

Dinah Birch
Professor of English Literature and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at Liverpool University

Lawrence Goldman
Fellow in Modern History at St Peter's College, Oxford

Gillian Darley
Historian and biographer of Octavia Hill

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    Gareth Stedman Jones, ‘Outcast London’ (1971)

    C. L. Mowat, ‘The Charity Organisation Society 1869-1913’ (1961)

    Beatrice Webb, ‘My Apprenticeship’ (1926)

    Edward Norman, ‘The Victorian Christian Socialists’ (1987)

    Lawrence Goldman, ‘Science, Reform and Politics in Victorian Britain: The Social Science Association 1857-1886’ (CUP, 2002)

    Gillian Darley, ‘Octavia Hill: Social Reformer and Founder of the National Trust’ (Francis Boutle, 2010)

    Sybil Oldfield, ‘Jeanie: An Army of One’ (University of Sussex Press, 2008)

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