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'Evocatively written and charming' - Countryfile The January Man is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn to the lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather. This exquisitely written account of the British countryside not only inspires us to don our boots and explore the 140,000 miles of footpaths across the British Isles, but also illustrates how, on long-distance walks, we can come to an understanding of ourselves and our fellow walkers. Over the hills and along the byways, Christopher Somerville examines what moulded the men of his father’s generation – so reticent about their wartime experiences, so self-effacing, upright and dutiful – as he searches for ‘the man inside the man’ that his own father really was.
When Christopher Somerville, author of the The January Man ('a truly wonderful, uplifting book, bursting with life' - Nicholas Crane), set out to explore Britain’s cathedrals, he found his fixed ideas shaken to the roots. Starting out, he pictured cathedrals – Britain possesses over one hundred – as great unmoving bastions of tradition. But as he journeys among favourites old and new, he discovers buildings and communities that have been in constant upheaval for a thousand years. Here are stories of the monarchs and bishops who ordered the building of these massive but unstable structures, the masons whose genius brought them into being, the peasant labourers who erected (and died on) the scaffolding. We learn of rogue saints exploited by holy sinners, the pomp and prosperity that followed these ships of stone, the towns that grew up in their shadows, the impact of the Black Death, the Reformation and icon-smashing Puritanism, the revival brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and the hope and disillusion of two world wars. Meeting believers and non-believers, architects and archaeologists, the cleaner who dusts the monuments and the mason who judges stone by its taste, we delve deep into the private lives and the uncertain future of these ever-voyaging Ships of Heaven.
By considering the disruptive potential of age disparate marriages in nineteenth-century British literature, Godfrey offers provocative new readings of canonical texts including Don Juan, Jane Eyre, and Bleak House.
Winston Churchill possessed an iron will and a subtle conscience. His staunch patriotism, tenacity, appetite for a fight, and, above all, his towering rhetoric inspired the British people to mount a gallant defense of their island nation. Having set a new bar for national heroism, he earned a place in the pantheon of the world’s greatest leaders. Churchill, a fearless soldier, was a veteran of countless battles and a rider in one of Britain’s last cavalry charges. He was also a gifted writer, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, whose war reporting made his name and whose books outlived him. A bon vivant who loved his brandy and cigars, he was also a devoted husband whose marriage was a lifelong love affair. By any measure, Churchill was a giant. But the man was far from perfect. He was a hero, yes, but a human one. He could be petty, irascible, and self-centered; it was bred in his bone that white Englishmen were born to lead the world and all others to be led. His mistakes cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives, but he had courage and a born politician’s sense of the public stage. In the end, Churchill became a regal figure whose life came to symbolize defiance of tyranny in the face of impossible odds. Here is his story.

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