- Published: 04/06/2015
- ISBN: 9781847086303
- 352 pages
When Philip Marsden moved to a remote, creekside farmhouse in Cornwall, the intensity of his response took him aback. It led him to wonder why we react so strongly to certain places and set him off on a journey on foot westwards to Land’s End through one of the most myth-rich regions of Europe.
From the Neolithic ritual landscape of Bodmin Moor to the Arthurian traditions at Tintagel, from the mysterious china-clay region to the granite tors and tombs of the far south-west, Marsden assembles a chronology of Britain’s attitude to place. In archives, he uncovers the life and work of other enthusiasts before him – medieval chroniclers and Tudor topographers, eighteenth-century antiquarians, post-industrial poets and abstract painters. Drawing also on his travels from further afield, Marsden reveals that the shape of the land lies not just at the heart of our own history but of man’s perennial struggle to belong on this earth.
The most incredible book
Clare Balding, BBC Radio Ramblings
Equally entertaining and enlightening... A timely volume, describing in beautiful prose the opulence of our natural and human fabric. A superb and educative work which should be read everywhere
Horatio Clare, Independent
Marsden is a born writer. Elegance seems as natural to his prose as the breeze from the west to his adopted homeland. He wears his learning lightly, and his curiosity is boundless
Tom Fort, Sunday Telegraph
From the Same Author
The Summer Isles
In an old wooden sloop, Philip Marsden plots a course north from his home in Cornwall. He is sailing for the Summer Isles, a small archipelago near the top of Scotland that holds for him a deep and personal significance. On the way, he must navigate the west coast of Ireland and the Inner Hebrides. Bearing the full force of the Atlantic, it is a seaboard which is also a mythical frontier, a place as rich in story as anywhere on earth.
Through the people he meets and the tales he uncovers, Marsden builds up a haunting picture of these shores – of imaginary islands and the Celtic otherworld, of the ageless draw of the west, of the life of the sea and perennial loss – and the redemptive power of the imagination.
Exhilarating and poignant, Marsden’s prose has been widely praised. Bringing together themes he has been pursuing for many years, The Summer Isles is an unforgettable account of the search for actual places, invented places, and those places in between that shape the lives of individuals and entire nations.
Philip Marsden on Granta.com
Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition
‘The greatest problem with the recent enthusiasm for tree-planting is disease. Large-scale projects mean large-scale movement of tree stock, which in turn has helped spread a number of highly contagious arboreal pathogens.’
Essays & Memoir | Granta 102
‘Never by any chance will any wanderer from the world discover him in that illimitable wilderness.’
Essays & Memoir | Granta 83
The Weather in Mongolia
‘In Mongolian lore, winter lasts precisely eighty-one days: nine periods of nine days’.