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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.
The Smell of Summer Grass is based partly on the long out of print 'Perch Hill'. It is the story of the years spent in finding and building a personal Arcadia, sometimes a dream, sometimes a nightmare, by writer Adam Nicolson and his wife, cook and gardener, Sarah Raven.Adam Nicolson was determined to leave metropolitan life but the rundown farm in the Sussex Weald was not quite what he bargained for. The scenery was breathtaking and the rural neighbours charming but the hard end of real farming life was another matter – mud, cold, planning regulations and unco-operative livestock.But for the reader the whole enterprise is full of delight thanks to Adam Nicolson's writing: frank, witty and touching, it is a testament to the importance of holding on to your dreams and turning them into reality.
The Battle of Trafalgar can claim to be one of the most known of the great human events. In Men of Honour, Adam Nicolson takes one of the greatest identifiable heroes in British history, Horatio Nelson, and examines the broader themes of heroism, violence and virtue.Trafalgar gripped the nineteenth century imagination like no other battle: it was a moment of both transcendent fulfilment and unmatched despair. It was a drama of such violence and sacrifice that the concept of total war may be argued to start from there. It finished the global ambitions of a European tyrant but culminated in the death of Admiral Horatio Nelson, the greatest hero of the era.This book fuses the immediate intensity of the battle with the deeper currents that were running at the time. It has a three-part framework: the long, slow six hour morning before the battle; the afternoon itself of terror, death and destruction; and the shocked, exultant and sobered aftermath, which finds its climax at Nelson's funeral in a snowy London the following January.Adam Nicolson examines the concept of heroes and heroism, both then and now, using Nelson as one of the greatest examples. A man of complexity and contradiction, he was a supreme administrator of ships and men; overflowing with humanity, charm and love but also capable of astonishing ruthlessness and ferocity. Nelson's own courage, vanity, ruthlessness and sweetness made him one of the great identifiable heroes of English history.In Men of Honour, Adam Nicolson also traces the stories of many unknown people of the day. He tackles the grand theme of heroism; the move from the age of reason to the age of romanticism; and examines a battle that was not only a uniquely well-documented crisis in human affairs but also a lens on its own time. Adam Nicolson does not approach Trafalgar as a military historian. His book gives a wonderfully immediate recreation of both the battle itself and its aftermath in a rich, concrete and intellectually engaging style.
Accompanied by an eight-part series, this is the story of Adam Nicolson’s adventure in a small boat around the western coast of the British Isles.Early in the year, Adam Nicolson decided to leave his comfy life at home on a Sussex farm and go on an adventure. Equipped with the Auk, a forty-two-foot wooden ketch, and a friend who at least knew how to sail, he set off up the Atlantic coasts of the British Isles: Cornwall to Scilly, over to Pembrokeshire and the west of Ireland, to the Hebrides and its offliers, St Kilda and North Rona, before heading on to Orkney, and finally to the Faroes, a two hundred mile leap out into the autumn winds of the North Atlantic.But the book is not just a travel journal. Adam Nicolson writes of his own yearnings for the sea and for wide open spaces. His year is strung between the competing claims of leaving and belonging, of thinking that no life could be more exhilarating than battling a big gale driving in out of the Atlantic and of wanting to be back, in harbour, safe, still and protected. Running throughout the book is a dialogue within the author himself between the attractions of home and not home, the certainties of what you know and the seductions of what you don't.Reflective and poetic, this book is full of rich experience. It is a story passionately engaged with the beauty and marvels of the wild Atlantic coast, but is also a self-portrait of a man in the middle of his life who is determined to find out what it’s all for.