Farming, Fascism and Ecology: A life of Jorian Jenks, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Farming, Fascism and Ecology

A life of Jorian Jenks, 1st Edition

By Philip M. Coupland


304 pages | 24 B/W Illus.

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The life of Jorian Jenks (1899-1963) has great potential to upset settled assumptions. Why did a sensitive and intelligent man from a liberal family become a fascist? How did a Blackshirt go green?

The son of an eminent academic, from his childhood onwards Jenks instead longed to farm. Lacking the means to do so, he worked as a farm bailiff and then, in New Zealand, as a government agricultural instructor. Finally, a legacy permitted him to come home and become a tenant farmer. Struggling to survive in the economic depression of the 1930s, he became an author and activist for rural reconstruction. Then, having lost faith in the established parties, he joined the British Union of Fascists. Becoming one of the Blackshirts’ leading figures, he was imprisoned without trial during the war. On his release, Jenks returned to the struggle, this time in the cause of ecology, becoming a pioneer of today’s organic movement and a founder of the Soil Association.

This book draws on an extensive range of sources, a large proportion of which were previously unseen by historians. For the first time, it portrays the private and public life of this unusual man, revealing many hitherto un-glimpsed facets of Jenks’ life.


"Philip Coupland's dedicated and impressive detective work illuminates the controversial life of Jorian Jenks, in that complex area of twentieth-century culture where politics merged with organic farming and economics with religion. This biography is a most valuable contribution to the history of environmentalism in Britain."

Dr. Philip Conford, School of Historical Studies, University of Leicester.

"Coupland’s book is both scholarly and fascinating. With a wealth of new archival material, we now at last have an in-depth study of a man central both to pre-war Fascist agricultural policies and to the post-war ecological movement."

Richard Griffiths, Emeritus Professor, King’s College London and author of Fellow Travellers of the Right and Patriotism Perverted.

"A fascinating book, uncovering hidden histories of British fascism and the British Ecology movement."

Matthew Worley, Professor of Modern History, University of Reading.

"Philip Coupland has unearthed a vast amount of information and his engrossing biography is the first in-depth study of Jenks."

Richard Griffiths, Patterns of Prejudice

"His comprehensive and insightful work is far more important than a mere biography of a right-wing eccentric, particularly in shedding light on the problematic relationship between ecological and fascist movements."

Steve Andrew, The Morning Star

"Green Fascism in the future. British Fascism in its present form may be dying

out, but the coming crises brought about by climate change, mass migration

and competition over resources will have great potential to disrupt existing

political and social structures. The re-emergence of Fascism will also depend on

whether the nation survives as a motivating force in an increasingly globalised


David Sivier,

Table of Contents


1. Roots

2. Shoots

3. Agricultural Education

4. Wanderlust

5. London Interlude

6. Superphosphate

7. A Small Legacy

8. Devon

9. An Interesting South-Coast Farm

10. Farming and Money

11. Another Cobbett

12. The Land and the People

13. Pigs and Pen

14. A Farmer’s Philosophy

15. War

16. 18B / 2732

17. J.J. Zeal

18. The Rural Reconstruction Association

19. Church and Countryside

20. Untouchable

21. Through the Tunnel

22. The Organic Movement

23. ‘A Young Plant of Great Promise’

24. Resurrection of the RRA

25. The Soil Association

26. From the Ground Up

27. Rural Economy Ltd

28. Feeding the Fifty Million

29. The Whole Works

30. Return

Epilogue. Jorian Jenks’ Legacy: Green and Black

About the Author

Philip M. Coupland is a researcher and author. He has published a book on the British churches and European integration, and has written widely on aspects of British interwar fascism.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right

This new book series focuses upon fascist, far right and right-wing politics primarily within a historical context but also drawing on insights from other disciplinary perspectives. Its scope also includes radical-right populism, cultural manifestations of the far right and points of convergence and exchange with the mainstream and traditional right.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Fascism & Totalitarianism