Publication Date: 30/03/2023 ISBN: 9780008499181 Category:

All the Wide Border

Mike Parker

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 30/03/2023 ISBN: 9780008499181 Category:




‘A joyful canter through the Marches.’ TLS

A funny, warm and timely meditation on identity and belonging, following the scenic route along the England-Wales border: Britain’s deepest faultline.

There is a line on the map: to one side Wales, small, rugged and stubborn; the other England, crucible of the most expansionist culture the world has ever seen. It is a line that has been dug, debated, defined and defended for twenty centuries.

All the Wide Border is a personal journey through the places, amongst the people, and across the divides of the border between England and Wales. Taking in some of our loveliest landscapes, and our darkest secrets, this is a region of immeasurable wonder and interest. It is there that the deepest roots and thorniest paradoxes of Britishness lie. The border between the countries, even as a concept, is ragged, jagged and many-layered.

Garlanded author Mike Parker has adored and explored these places his entire life. Born in England but settled in Wales, he finds himself typical of many in being pulled in both directions. His journey is divided into three legs, corresponding with the watersheds of the three great border rivers: the Dee in the north, the Severn in the centre, the Wye in the south. Neither quite England nor Wales, the furzy borderland he uncovers – the March – is another country. A hefty schlep from everywhere, these are A. E. Housman’s ‘blue remembered hills’ – his ‘land of lost content’ – and ours too.

Picking apart the many notions and cliches of Englishness, Welshness and indeed Britishness, Mike Parker plays with the very idea of borders, our fascination with them, our need for them, and our response to their power. In his hands, England-Wales border is revealed to be a border within us all, and it is fraying, fast.

Publisher Review

'I loved this book. Mike Parker weaves together a great deal of wide reading, hard thinking and soulful tramping in his funny, thoughtful and evocative investigation of the Welsh-English border.' Jesse Armstrong, creator of Succession and Peep Show 'All the Wide Border is both a beautifully written journey through the history and landscape of the border country of Wales and England and a clear-eyed analysis of its physical and psychological dividing line - the best kind of travelogue.' Richard King, author of Brittle with Relics: A History of Wales, 1962-97 'This enthralling journey beautifully celebrates our ancient frontier land and is a present-day reminder of its' enduring duty.' Tudur Owen, BAFTA winning comedian and presenter 'I was often overcome by "fierce wonder"; there's geography and topography enough to orientate and surprise; there's history enough to fascinate but not to fog the senses; there are anecdotes that brought belly laughs and tears. Fine writing indeed.' John Sam Jones, author of The Journey is Home Praise for Mike Parker... 'What a true wanderer he is, and how wonderfully well-read, and how truly sensitive to numen!' Jan Morris 'A kind of mini-biography of the British psyche emerges from Parker's work, its learning lightly worn and its tales well told, full of interest and incident' Horatio Clare

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