From Bedales to the Boche - 
      Robert Dudley Best

From Bedales to the Boche

The ironies of an Edwardian childhood

«Gyles Brandreth: "A fascinating time capsule, beautifully written, beautifully observed. A vivid portrait of several vanished worlds.»

Robert Best and his younger brother Frank were born into privileged middle-class Birmingham in the 1890s, where their father owned one of the UK's most successful lighting factories, supplying fashionable fittings to offices, hotels, restaurants and opera houses all over the word. Les mer
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Robert Best and his younger brother Frank were born into privileged middle-class Birmingham in the 1890s, where their father owned one of the UK's most successful lighting factories, supplying fashionable fittings to offices, hotels, restaurants and opera houses all over the word. Sent to the most enlightened new school of its day - Bedales - the boys not early enjoyed the freedom to explore their own interests but also absorbed the inspirational moral thinking of the school's founder and headmaster, J.H. Badley. "From Bedales to the Boche" charts their history at the school during its early years, and shows what Badley's idea of a progressive education consisted of. It also shows how the boys honed their ambitions to become music-hall entertainers, writing and performing their own material at home and at school, and eventually showing it to London impresarios. Their plans for the stage were interrupted, however, by their father's insistence that they study design at another progressive institution, the art school in Duesseldorf headed until 1907 by Peter Behrens. Best's account of his year there, and of Frank's the following year, provides an amusing interlude ahead of the First World War. When war broke out, the brothers enlisted at once into the Army Service Corps (ASC), which took them to the battlefields of northern France and to Dublin in 1916 to help quell the Easter Rising. Their passion, however, going back to their experiments with flight while at Bedales, was for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps, which they entered in late 1916, joining the Corps' new school and embarking on a training programme that Best describes in fascinating detail. After six months of training, the brothers were sent to France where the life expectancy of a pilot was about 4 months. Frank lasted five weeks; his plane was shot down, his body never found. In respect of his death, "From Bedales to the Boche" is rich in pathos. Best ends by showing how he and his parents responded to Frank's loss, and how he tried to rediscover and make sense of Germany after the war was over.
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Forlag: EnvelopeBooks
Innbinding: Paperback
ISBN: 9781838172022
Format: 20 x 13 cm
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Introduction. Chapter 1: Signing up. Chapter 2: Schoolboy spirit. Chapter 3: From behind the front line. Chapter 4: How we had fun. Chapter 5: Army training at Boxmoor. Chapter 6: Quelling the Irish rebellion. Chapter 7: Back to school. Chapter 8: What Germany taught me. Chapter 9: What Germany taught Frank. Chapter 10: Taking to the Skies. Chapter 11: Closer to Heaven. Chapter 12: Is there anybody out there?
Robert Dudley Best (1892-1984) was a British manufacturer deeply involved with the Modern design movement in and immediately after the interwar years. He took over Best & Lloyd, his father's light industrial engineering works in Birmingham, having previously trained as a metal designer at art school in Dusseldorf. He went on to design the Bestlite, an iconic Bauhaus-styled desk lamp that remains in production and was used by Winston Churchill in Whitehall. Best was an early apostle of the posture therapist F.M. Alexander of the Alexander technique, campaigned for better art-school education for industrial apprentices, and was a founder of the Common Wealth Party in 1942. His social circle included a group of Birmingham artists and intellectuals including Prof. Philip Sargant Florence and others associated with Birmingham University. He also befriended Nikolaus Pevsner during Pevsner's 15 months in Birmingham between 1934-5, and hosted the first visit of Walter Gropius to the Midlands after Gropius's departure from Germany in 1934. Best wrote prolifically, though only one of his books was published in his lifetime: Brass Chandelier, his history of his father's experiments with metal manufacturing and promotion of progressive German pedagogic ideas, which Pevsner reviewed in the Architectural Review.