First published in 1896, and initially co-written with his father – also named Banister Fletcher – Sir Banister Flight Fletcher’s History of Architecture quickly became a familiar feature on the bookshelves of generations of architects. Both Fletchers were architects themselves, with Banister junior taking over the family practice when his father died in 1899. While Banister senior was for a time a Liberal MP and a magistrate, his son also practised as a lawyer, and in fact his later knighthood was not for his services to architecture but to the City of London (he became Senior Sheriff in 1918).
Both Fletchers, however, put education at the heart of their careers. The elder was made Professor of Architecture and Building Construction at King’s College London in 1890, whereas his son conducted extension courses in architectural history for the general public at the University of London for 40 years, as well as teaching building construction at the Architectural Association and running correspondence courses for students undertaking the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) examinations. Banister Flight Fletcher was elected RIBA President in 1929, and in that position was involved in arrangements for establishing the Institute’s new premises at 66 Portland Place, its current headquarters, which opened in 1934.
On his death in 1953, Sir Banister Fletcher’s long-standing relationship with the University of London and the RIBA was recognised in his will. The two institutions became joint beneficiaries of the copyright in his History of Architecture along with a trust fund to be used for the furtherance of architectural teaching and appreciation. As trustees, the RIBA and the University are responsible for making available the History of Architecture to new generations and, in this endeavour, for commissioning, producing and licensing new content for publication - including this first fully digitised version.