Lives in a landscape

In an essay in 2018 in Ground Work, an anthology of writing on places and people, the critic and cultural historian Alexandra Harris told how she had returned to the area of Sussex where she had grown up and realised how little she knew about it. She has remedied that since. In The Rising Down: Lives in a Sussex Landscape, due to be published by Faber on Thursday, she turns her attention to the Arun Valley and, she says on her website, tries to discover “how people at different times have inhabited, understood and expressed their surroundings. I’m interested in the way that memories or imaginings of places are layered onto each other; I’m keen to pay heed to unwritten lives, eclectic sources, and physical materials (wood, flint, chalk, willow); and rather than following any established cultural canon, I’m asking ‘who was here?’”

The answer : people including the painter John Constable, the modernist writer Ford Madox Ford and lost local women who left little trace. There’s an early review, by Sara Wheeler, in the Literary Review, though you’ll have to be a subscriber to read all of it.

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