Faber is delighted to announce The Lark Ascending by Richard King, the bestselling and critically-acclaimed author of How Soon Is Now? and Original Rockers, for publication on 6 June 2018. Richard King’s new book is a history of the British countryside told through the relationship between music and landscape.
Written by one of our most celebrated cultural historians, The Lark Ascending is a lyrical exploration of how Britain’s identity was shaped throughout the Twentieth Century by the urge to reimagine the country’s wild places.
From the psychologically altered English landscape Vaughan Williams and his generation encountered as they returned after the armistice, to the agrarian revivalists and of the 1930s; from the ‘Back to the Land’ movement of the 1960s to the changing landscape of the 1980s, which witnessed the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common and New Age Travellers congregating every year at Stonehenge, rural Britain was a source of great social energy and a place of dramatic change.
Music was an inspiration and complement to these new interpretations of a British pastoral tradition, from the song written to commemorate the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932, to the moment, sixty years later, when the sound systems at the country’s largest ever illegal rave, held at Castlemorton Common, finally ran out of charge.
Through a series of ‘headphone walks’ and reflective interviews with musicians, filmmakers, ruralists and witnesses Richard King listens closely to Britain’s rural landscapes and the compositions inspired by their beauty and drama. His journey takes him from the west coast of Wales to the Lothian Hills, from the Thames Estuary to the Suffolk shoreline – and from Vaughan Williams to Brian Eno, from Penguin Cafe Orchestra to the Raincoats, from Kate Bush to Boards of Canada, ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ to Greenham Common …
His unique and intimate history of a nation celebrates the British countryside as a living, working, and occasionally rancorous environment – rather than an unaffected idyll – that forged a nation’s musical personality and provided a space in which life could be experienced on its own terms and its fullest, under open skies, far away from the gaze of authority.
October – Date TBA – Barbican Presents: Richard King’s The Lark Ascending
A live concert featuring music and spoken word from the book at The Barbican Centre, London. Full line-up to be announced.
For almost two decades Richard King has lived in the hill farming country of Radnorshire, Mid-Wales. He has written for the Guardian, Vice, Observer and many other publications He was the co-editor of Loops. He is the author of Original Rockers, which was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize, and How Soon Is Now? Named Sunday Times Music Book of the Year, both published by Faber. @richard_king
Praise for Richard King:
‘This is not so much a eulogy for record shops as an examination of the romantic, slightly tragic disposition of the people to whom they meant so much’ – The Times ‘Music Book of the Year’
‘Original Rockers is a remarkable memory fugue, a work of rapture and reverie, a bittersweet and often moving tribute to a hallowed place’ – Observer
‘Part time capsule, part history lesson, part musical treasure map [ … ] Offering insights into the idiosyncratic, often comically dysfunctional world behind the counter, King unashamedly romanticises those pre-internet days when musical knowledge was hard won rather than a mouse-click away’ – Mojo 4****
‘Original Rockers is an eloquent panegyric…In its intoxicating sense of place, and King’s tying together of disparate pop-cultural strands, it sometimes seems to be a modest cousin of Greil Marcus’s Invisible Republic or Lipstick Traces, or an example of an idiosyncratic kind of cultural-historical writing’ – John Harris, Guardian
‘A highly personal memoir that vividly articulates the sheer thrill of musical discovery , the new or previously unheard record that attaches itself to a moment in your life, from which it becomes inseparable’ – Uncut 8/10
‘Exhaustive and reflective, this is the definitive work on one of Britain’s great artistic booms’ – Sunday Times ‘Music Book of the Year’
‘Remarkable and hugely enjoyable. . . Richard King does an amazing job of portraying the ramshackle yet exhilarating vibe of the times . . . If only all music books were this good’ – Scotsman