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One of the great social thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) enjoyed a career of astonishing diversity. This new analysis of his life and work reviews his ideas and philosophy of planning, providing a scholarly yet accessible account for those interested in the history of planning, urban design, social theory and nineteenth century British history. A figure of international importance in the history of modern town planning and environmental studies, Patrick Geddes pioneered a sociological approach to the study of urbanisation. He also argued that the city should be studied in the context of the region; predicted that the process of urbanisation could be analysed and understood; and believed that the application of knowledge about the city could shape future developments towards life-enhancement for all citizens.
Helen Meller's reassessment enables his contribution and ideas to be viewed as a whole, as it describes his work in Scotland, Ireland, India, Palestine, and France, and traces the way in which Geddes' path crossed those of other pioneer planners and social scientists fired with his enthusiasm for making sense of the modern world. Increasingly, those who worry about the environment and who contemplate what has been done with dismay are looking again at Geddes' work, and he has become an inspiration to groups varying from Scottish nationalists to ecologists and conservationists. Helen Meller's study shows that his critique of the process of urbanisation and modern living is trenchant, relevant, and stimulating in the present day.