Leagues of Sunshine: Sunlight, Health and the Environment

  • Simon Carter


This chapter explores how, during the 1920s and 1930s, a variety of forces came into play to weave sunlight, as a giver of health, into the fabric of social environments. The use of sunlight, both natural and artificial, was already well-established as a therapy that had been prevalent in Europe since the late nineteenth century.1 The growth of sunlight therapy, however, expanded greatly in the early part of the twentieth century, with heliotherapy (natural sunlight) being used to treat tuberculosis and actinotherapy (via sunlamps) deployed to combat rickets.2 These therapeutic applications, applied in sanatoria and clinics, helped establish an association between sunlight and health. The growth in the use of such sunlight therapies was partially based on the idea of ‘nature’ being curative of the diseased body.3 However, this idea of nature as curative and enhancing health was also being found in non-clinical developments in this period and these helped to produce equivalence between health and the desire to introduce sunlight into the environments used for living and working. It is these developments that this chapter will consider.


Sunlight Exposure Urban Poor Health Society Smoke Pollution Moral Degeneracy 
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© Simon Carter 2012

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  • Simon Carter

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