In England, the decay of the countryside started in mid-1870s with the Agricultural Depression. In the cities and towns, on the other hand, the explosion of the population, which began with the Industial Revolution in the late eighteenth century, caused as its result the environmental aggravation of the urban districts at the end of the nineteenth century. Under the influence of Darwinian discourses they came to be regarded as nightmarish places where the bodies of its residents were exhausted and as.a whole began to show a sign of national deterioration.
Stimulated by the advance of the cities and towns, and the progressing decay of the countryside, appeared between the fin de siecle and 1920s the ideology which could be named the myth of rural England : the original identity of England lies in the the countryside. With the slogan of 'Back to the Land," it showed itself in various forms (political, social, cultural, etc.) of back-to-the-countryside movement.
This present research project has traced, through an interdisciplinary reading of texts of the period from 1880s to 1920s related with town problems and Back-to-the-Land movements, the historical process in which the national identity of England was formed on the basis of the myth of rural England, and also interpreted E. M. Forster's Howards End (1910) in the intertexual relation of these social and cultural texts. In collaboration with. Yasuko Shidara, I have made clear, by thoroughly historicizing Howards End, how its text is woven under the influence of the contemporary ideology called the myth of rural England.