Post-War Recovery of Confidence
This chapter focusses on a number of artists who made their reputation in the 1930s but whose work reached a wider audience after World War II, helped by a number of major church commissions.
A line in a poem by W.H. Auden describes the 1930s as a ‘low, dishonest decade’1. The attitude of upper-class socialites was brilliantly caught by Terrence Rattigan in his 1938 play After the Dance. Ominous clouds of war darken the sky but they spend their time endlessly rehearsing the great parties they attended in the 1920s. Yet, even they at last began to realise that something serious was occurring, and that a personal response was going to be required. World War II brought about a new seriousness, one which, after the conflict was over, was expressed politically in the aspirations of the Attlee Government and the creation of the welfare state. This new mood lasted until the end of the 1950s. One expression was the return to the Christian faith of a good many who had previously been indifferent to it. Billy Graham’s missions brought about the conversion of a number of people who later became leaders in Britain’s churches. It was reflected, for example, in the fact that 1962 saw 628 people ordained in the Church of England, the highest number of people ordained since World War I, and higher than any year since.