Wordsworth and Coleridge as you've never seen them before in this new book by Adam Nicolson, brimming with poetry, art and nature writing. Proof that poetry can change the world.
It is the most famous year in English poetry. Out of it came The Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, as well as Coleridge's unmatched hymns to friendship and fatherhood, Wordsworth's revolutionary verses in Lyrical Ballads and the greatness of Tintern Abbey, his paean to the unity of soul and cosmos, love and understanding.
Bestselling and award-winning writer Adam Nicolson tells the story, almost day by day, of the year in the late 1790s that Coleridge, Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and an ever-shifting cast of friends, dependants and acolytes spent together in the Quantock Hills in Somerset.
To a degree never shown before, The Making of Poetry explores the idea that these poems came from this place, and that only by experiencing the physical circumstances of the year, in all weathers and all seasons, at night and at dawn, in sunlit reverie and moonlit walks, can the genesis of the poetry start to be understood.
What emerges is a portrait of these great figures as young people, troubled, ambitious, dreaming of a vision of wholeness, knowing they had greatness in them but still in urgent search of the paths towards it.
The poetry they made was not from settled conclusions but from the adventure on which they were all embarked, seeing what they wrote as a way of stripping away all the dead matter, exfoliating consciousness, penetrating its depths. Poetry for them was not an ornament for civilisation but a challenge to it, a means of remaking the world.
'Nobody must find out about this unique gem, because I'm giving it to EVERYONE, and I want to appear clever and discerning.' Dawn French It's January 1st and Brian Bilston's life needs to change. His ex-wife has taken up with a new man, a motivational speaker and marketing guru to boot; he seems to constantly disappoint his long-suffering son; and at work he is drowning in a sea of spreadsheets and management jargon. Brian resolution is to write a poem every day; poetry will be his salvation. But there is an obstacle to his happiness in the form of Toby Salt, his arch nemesis in the Poetry Group and rival suitor to Liz, Brian's new poetic inspiration. When Toby goes missing, Brian is the number one suspect. Part tender love story, part murder mystery, part coruscating description of a wasted life, and interspersed with some of the funniest poems about the mundane and the profound, Diary of a Somebody is a unique, original and hilarious novel. 'Glorious. I will be astonished if I read a more original, more inventive or funnier novel this year.' Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt
Published on a wave of critical acclaim – and breathless enthusiasm from our booksellers – Candice Carty-Williams’ luminous debut is a joy-filled, painfully funny coming-of-age story set in modern Britain. Fabulous but flawed, defiant but vulnerable, Queenie Jenkins is one of the great fictional creations of the twenty-first century, and her story is, by turns, hilariously funny, dramatic and movingly tender.
Caught between the Jamaican British family who don’t seem to understand her, a job that’s not all it promised and a man she just can’t get over, Queenie’s life seems to be steadily spiralling out of control. Desperately trying to navigate her way through a hot mess of shifting cultures and toxic relationships and emerge with a shred of dignity, her missteps and misadventures will provoke howls of laughter and tears of pity – frequently on the same page.
Tackling issues as diverse as mental health, race, class and consent with a light yet sure touch, Queenie is refreshingly candid, delightfully compassionate and bracingly real. The perfect fable for a frenetic and confusing time, Carty-Williams’ stellar novel is undoubtedly one of the year’s most exciting debuts and announces its author as a fresh and vibrant new voice in British literature.
This breathtaking debut, winner of the Costa First Novel Award, is a murder mystery that travels across the Atlantic and through the darkest channels of history. A brilliant, searing depiction of race, class, and oppression that penetrates the skin and sears the soul, it is the story of a woman of her own making in a world that would see her unmade.
All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being tried at the Old Bailey.
The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore.
But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home—and into a passionate and forbidden relationship.
Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself.
'A hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly - at times, astonishingly - a story of transience, loss and true loyalty' Guardian 1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager's devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen. This exceptional novel explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.
'I was swept along by Asha's story from the first page.'SARAH DRIVER, author of The Huntress trilogy Asha lives in the foothills of the Himalayas. Money is tight and she misses her papa who works in the city. When he suddenly stops sending his wages, a ruthless moneylender ransacks their home andher mother talks of leaving. From her den in the mango tree, Asha makes a pact with her best friend, Jeevan, to find her father and make things right. But the journey is dangerous: they must cross the world's highest mountains and face hunger, tiredness - even snow leopards. And yet, Asha has the unshakeable sense that the spirit bird of her grandmother - her nanijee - will be watching over her.
Surreal, joyful, political and queer, Reckless Paper Birds is a collection to treasure by Polari Prize-winning poet John McCullough.
These exuberant poems welcome you into a psychedelic, parallel world of ‘vomit and blossom’ where Kate Bush mingles with a weeping Lady Gaga, a ‘fractal coast’ full of see-through things: water, mirrors, glass pebbles.
With a magpie’s eye for hidden charms, McCullough ranges across birdlife, Grindr and My Little Pony while also addressing social issues from homelessness to homophobia.