On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging
Shortlisted for the Richard Jeffries Award 2021
[A] wonderfully accurate, powerful and funny memoir of rural life Stephen Moss
It's ever so good. Political, passionate & personal. Robert Macfarlane (via Twitter)
I couldn't put it down! A must read! Dara McAnulty (via Twitter), author of The Diary of a Young Naturalist
From treetop protests at the Newbury Bypass to the grand Highclere Estate, On Gallows Down is that rare thing: nature writing as political as it is personal. Melissa Harrison, author of The Stubborn Light of Things
Part nature writing, part memoir, On Gallows Down is an essential, unforgettable read for fans of Helen Macdonald, Melissa Harrison and Isabella Tree.
On Gallows Down is a powerful, personal story shaped by a landscape deeply loved; one that ripples and undulates with protest, change, hope - and the search for home.
From the girl catching the eye of the 'peace women' of Greenham Common to the young woman protesting the loss of ancient and beloved trees, and as a mother raising a family in tied and tenanted farm cottages on grand, country estates, this is the story of how Nicola came to write - as a means of protest. Of how she discovered the rich seam of resistance that runs through Newbury's people from the English Civil War to the Swing Riots and the battle against the Newbury Bypass, the hope she finds in the rewilding of Greenham Common after the military left, and the stories told by the landscapes of Watership Down, the gibbet perched high on Gallows Down and Highclere Castle.
Nature is indelibly linked to belonging for Nicola. She charts her story through the walks she takes with her children across the chalk hills of the North Wessex Downs, through the song of the nightingale and the red kites, fieldfares, skylarks and lapwings that accompany her; the badger cubs she watches at night; the velvety mole she discovers in her garden and the cuckoo, whose return she awaits.
On Gallows Down is about how Nicola came to realise that it is she who can decide where she belongs, for home is a place in nature and imagination, which must be protected through words and actions.
We are writing for our very lives and for those wild lives we share this one, lonely planet with.
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