Matthew Green in conversation with Iain Sinclair
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Burley Fisher Books will welcome Matthew Green on the day of his book launch. Matthew, author of Shadowlands: A Journey through Lost Britain will be joined by Iain Sinclair in a conversation about place, memory, resurfacing and loss.
Drowned. Buried by sand. Decimated by plague. Plunged off a cliff. This is the forgotten history of Britain’s lost cities, ghost towns and vanished villages: our shadowlands.
Britain’s landscape is scarred with haunting and romantic remains; these shadowlands that were once filled with life are now just spectral echoes. Peering through the cracks of history, we find Dunwich, a medieval city plunged off a Suffolk cliff by sea storms; the lost city of Trellech unearthed by moles in the Welsh Marches; and the ghostly reservoir that is Capel Celyn, one of the few remaining solely Welsh-speaking villages, drowned by Liverpool City Council.
Historian Matthew Green tells the extraordinary stories of how these places met their fate and probes the disappearances to explain why Britain looks the way it does today. Travelling across Britain, Green transports the reader to these places as they teeter on the brink of oblivion, vividly capturing the sounds of the sea clawing away row upon row of houses, the taste of medieval wine, or the sights of puffin hunting on the tallest cliffs in the country. We experience them in their prime, look on at their destruction and revisit their lingering remains later as they are mourned by evictees and reimagined by artists, writers and mavericks.
By exploring the lost causes and dead ends of history – places lost to natural phenomena, war and plague, economic shifts and technological progress – the precariousness of our own towns and cities, of humanity, becomes clear. Shadowlands is a deeply evocative and dazzlingly original account of Britain’s past.
‘A haunting and miraculous work of resurrection, stinging in a perpetual present’.
Iain Sinclair, The Gold Machine
From the award-wining author of The Last London and Lights Out for the Territory, a journey in the footsteps of our ancestors. In The Gold Machine, Iain Sinclair and his daughter travel through Peru, guided by – and in reaction to an ill-fated colonial expedition led by his great-grandfather, Arthur Sinclair. The incursions of Catholic bounty hunters and Adventist missionaries are contrasted with today’s ecotourists and shortcut vision seekers. The family history of a displaced Scottish highlander fades into the brutal reality of a major land grab.
The historic thirst for gold and the establishment of sprawling coffee plantations leave terrible wounds on virgin territory. What was once portrayed as an intrepid adventure is transformed into a shocking tale of the violated rights of indigenous people, secret dealings between London finance and Peruvian government, and the collusion of the church in colonial expansion. A beautiful valley is now the property of a British corporation.
In Sinclair’s haunting prose, no place escapes its past, and nor can we.
Image credit – Hayley Benoit