The term voluntary simplicity is attributed to the social reformer Richard B. Gregg, who in 1936 wrote an influential pamphlet in favour of the conscious and deliberate simplification and repurposing of life, to the benefit of both the individual and society at large. He is by no means the first exponent of this line of thought, nor will he turn out to be the last. By the late 1970s a loosely-bound cultural movement seems to have had emerged around the idea, and today there are Simplicity collectives, work-shops, institutes and lecture series in several countries. The concept of deliberate simplicity is tangled up in a complicated web of countercultural sentiments and beliefs: It was understood by Romantics and Transcendentalists as a prerequisite for the attainment of the divine truths and inspirations imbedded in Nature. It was advocated by Victorian aesthetic socialists as the starting-point of a true levelling of society, liberating the human instinct for craftsmanship, beauty, virtue and social justice. It was utilised by Gandhi to imagine a future India, free, not only from its colonial shackles but also from the violence and tensions of industrial progress and competition, which he saw as a negation of the Indian soul and key values, and by his contemporary Ralph Borsodi as a way for Americans to become truly independent, both from government forces and predatory capitalists. It was promoted by futurist Duane Elgin in the 70s for its promise of individual and planetary revitalization , and still has strong adherents in our own century, who often emphasise family values and reclaiming personal agency in an age of rampant materialism and have referred to it as the poetic alternative to consumer culture. The thesis will be an attempt to locate and explicate, within this cacophony of voices, some of the defining features and evolving characteristics of this specific but elusive strand of ideas and practice and to draw connections between the various incarnations of voluntary simplicity through a close, but widely spaced, reading of relevant texts.