This large book is both rewarding and demanding. It offers information in abundance and, like Sir Barry Cunliffe’s previous publications from OUP, it is beautifully written and illustrated. But what makes Britain Begins so exceptional is its geographical and chronological scope. From the outset, our islands (Ireland is included) are placed fairly and squarely on our own area of the continental shelf. We are then taken on a journey through time, starting at the end of the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago. That journey continues throughout prehistory, but it doesn’t end, as so many other books do, with the coming of the Romans. Instead, it continues right up to the Age of the Northmen (the Vikings and Normans), drawing to a close around AD 1100. In a world where everything seems to be served up in myopic soundbites, such breadth of vision is wonderfully refreshing – and very enlightening.
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'She must pretend to be a walking companion, observe without being noticed and paint the subject from memory, in secret. It's a superb metaphor for the female artist, hidden from history.'
@nclarke14 ponders the resonance of 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'.
'And there in the evening the bride and the gamekeeper
Wait with their faces averted, wait
For the signal to shift and the lamp to glow red
And a train to arrive, but not yet and not yet.'
'It Says Here', from Sean O'Brien's upcoming collection.
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