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Tom Fort - Author

About the Author

Tom Fort was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1978 he joined the BBC in London where he worked in the BBC Radio newsroom for 22 years. He lives in South Oxfordshire with his wife and two of his children and has been travelling up and down the A303 for over five decades.

Featured books by Tom Fort

The Village News The Truth Behind England's Rural Idyll

The Village News The Truth Behind England's Rural Idyll

Author: Tom Fort Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/04/2017

We have lived in villages a long time. The village was the first model for communal living. Towns came much later, then cities. Later still came suburbs, neighbourhoods, townships, communes, kibbutzes. But the village has endured. Across England, modernity creeps up to the boundaries of many, breaking the connection the village has with the land. With others, they can be as quiet as the graveyard as their housing is bought up by city 'weekenders', or commuters. The ideal chocolate box image many holidaying to our Sceptred Isle have in their minds eye may be true in some cases, but across the country the heartbeat of the real English village is still beating strongly - if you can find it. To this mission our intrepid historian and travel writer Tom Fort willingly gets on his trusty bicycle and covers the length and breadth of England to discover the essence of village life. His journeys will travel over six thousand years of communal existence for the peoples that eventually became the English.

ebook of the month
The Channel Shore From the White Cliffs to Land's End

The Channel Shore From the White Cliffs to Land's End

Author: Tom Fort Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/05/2015

The English Channel is the busiest waterway in the world. Ferries steam back and forth, trains thunder through the tunnel. The narrow sea has been crucial to our development and prosperity. It helps define our notion of Englishness, as an island people, a nation of seafarers. It is also our nearest, dearest playground where people have sought sun, sin and bracing breezes. Tom Fort takes us on a fascinating, discursive journey from east to west, to find out what this stretch of water means to us and what is so special about the English seaside, that edge between land and seawater. He dips his toe into Sandgate's waters, takes the air in Hastings and Bexhill, chews whelks in Brighton, builds a sandcastle in Sandbanks, sunbathes in sunny Sidmouth, catches prawns off the slipway at Salcombe and hunts a shark off Looe. Stories of smugglers and shipwreck robbers, of beachcombers and samphire gatherers, gold diggers and fossil hunters abound.

Other books by Tom Fort

The Book of Eels

The Book of Eels

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/07/2020

What has been the dish of kings, the subject of myths and the traveller of epic and mysterious journeys? The eel. Beginning life in the Sargasso Sea, the eel travels across the ocean, lives for twenty or so years, and then is driven by some instinct back across the ocean to spawn and die. And the next generation starts the story again. No one knows why the eels return, or how the orphaned elvers learn their way back. One man discovered, after many adventures, the breeding ground of all eels - and he is the hero of this book. Eels were being caught and consumed 5000 years before the birth of Christ - Aristotle and Pliny wrote about them; Romans regarded them as a peerless delicacy; Egyptians accorded them semi-sacred status; English kings died of overeating them. There are many strange practices among eel fishers all over the world, and many great fortunes based upon the eel harvest. The Book of Eels, a combination of social comment, biography and natural history, is also a fascinating and witty account of Tom Fort's obsession with the eel, his journeying to discover the eel in all its habitats, and the people he meets in his pursuit.

Casting Shadows

Casting Shadows

Author: Tom Fort Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/03/2020

Peer into the secret, silent world of the freshwater fish and explore evolution of the art and industry of fishing in Britain's rivers and streams. From cunning Neolithic traps, intricate Roman nets and quarrellous Victorian societies to the evolution of angling and eventual gentrification of river access, this history spans thousands of years and ends with a poignant call to protect the underwater world from the horrors of industrial fishing and farming. Meanwhile, another thread of the narrative weaves in the lives of the fishes themselves: the incredible struggles of the Atlantic salmon and secretive eel; the pike, a lean and camouflaged predator; the carp, huge and stately, begetter of obsessions; the exquisite spotted brown trout and its silver cousin, the grayling. Lives built on and around fishing have largely faded from Britain, but fishermen and conservationists are working tirelessly to prevent the same fate befalling the fishes.

The A303

The A303

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 13/06/2019

'A nostalgic experience, informative, humorous, charming, but pervaded by the bitter-sweet scent of regret' Daily Mail 'Fort has an eye for the quirky, the absurd, the pompous and a style that, like the road, is always on the move' Sunday Telegraph 'A lovely book...At last someone has celebrated the romance of the British road' Guardian The A303 is more than a road. It is a story. One of the essential routes of English motoring and the road of choice to the West Country for thousands of holidaymakers, the A303 recalls a time when the journey was an adventure and not simply about getting there. In this fully revised and updated edition, Tom Fort gives voice to the stories this road has to tell, from the bluestones of Stonehenge, Roman roads and drovers paths to turnpike tollhouses, mad vicars, wicked Earls and solstice seekers, the history, geography and culture of this road tells a story of an English way of life.

The Village News

The Village News

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/03/2019

`An entertaining book, written with Fort's characteristic conversational style... A real pleasure to read' - BBC Countryfile `A wide-ranging, intelligent and bracingly enjoyable book' - The Literary Review `Meticulously researched and seasoned with wry humour, this is a perceptive and richly rewarding read' - Mail on Sunday We have lived in villages a long time. The village was the first model for communal living. Towns came much later, then cities. Later still came suburbs, neighbourhoods, townships, communes, kibbutzes. But the village has endured. Across England, modernity creeps up to the boundaries of many, breaking the connection the village has with the land. With others, they can be as quiet as the graveyard as their housing is bought up by city `weekenders', or commuters. The ideal chocolate box image many holidaying to our Sceptred Isle have in their minds eye may be true in some cases, but across the country the heartbeat of the real English village is still beating strongly - if you can find it. To this mission our intrepid historian and travel writer Tom Fort willingly gets on his trusty bicycle and covers the length and breadth of England to discover the essence of village life. His journeys will travel over six thousand years of communal existence for the peoples that eventually became the English. Littered between the historical analysis, are personal memories from Tom of the village life he remembers and enjoys today in rural Oxfordshire.

Channel Shore

Channel Shore

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/02/2016

The English Channel is the busiest waterway in the world. Ferries steam back and forth, trains thunder through the tunnel. The narrow sea has been crucial to our development and prosperity. It helps define our notion of Englishness, as an island people, a nation of seafarers. It is also our nearest, dearest playground where people have sought sun, sin and bracing breezes. Tom Fort takes us on a fascinating, discursive journey from east to west, to find out what this stretch of water means to us and what is so special about the English seaside, that edge between land and seawater. He dips his toe into Sandgate's waters, takes the air in Hastings and Bexhill, chews whelks in Brighton, builds a sandcastle in Sandbanks, sunbathes in sunny Sidmouth, catches prawns off the slipway at Salcombe and hunts a shark off Looe. Stories of smugglers and shipwreck robbers, of beachcombers and samphire gatherers, gold diggers and fossil hunters abound.

Against the Flow

Against the Flow

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/01/2011

'You have to be on your guard when you go back to special places. You may be able to locate them easily enough on the map, but maps tell only one story. Times change and places and people with them. The memory plays curious tricks, and things aren't always as you remember or expect.' Twenty years ago, Tom Fort drove his little red car onto the ferry at Felixstowe, bound for all points east. Eastern Europe was still a faraway place, just emerging from its half-century of waking nightmare, blinking, injured, full of fears but importantly full of hope too. Things were different then. Czechoslovakia was still Czechoslovakia, Russia was the USSR and the Warsaw Pact had not formally dissolved. But what did exist then, as they do now, were the rivers: the nations' lifeblood. It was along and by these rivers that Fort travelled around Eastern Europe meeting its people and immersing himself in its culture. Since that trip though, much has changed and in more recent years around one million Poles have settled in Britain. Fort's local paper has a Polish edition, his supermarket has a full range of Polish bread, sausage and beer and an influx of Polish businesses opened in his town centre. And it's not just the Poles, his gym has a Lithuanian trainer and the woman who cuts his hair is from Hungary. As a tide of people began to leave Eastern Europe and settle in the UK, Tom Fort started to wonder about what they were leaving behind and whether the friends he had made all those years ago remained. And so he decided to make the journey again, travelling against the flow of the steady human stream to explore the once familiar places. As he did so, many began to return as the recession took hold of Western Europe. Tom was keen to find out what had changed and how the places, people and way of life had moved on and of course fit in a spot of fishing along the way.

Downstream

Downstream

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/03/2009

Downstream is a celebration of rivers: an exploration of what they mean to us and an account of what we owe to them. Tom Fort followed the course of our third largest, and one of our least known rivers from source to the sea -- the River Trent. Travelling partly on foot and bicycle, but chiefly in a plywood fifteen foot punt, Fort journeyed through the unsung heart of Middle England, showing him the unseen face of his own country. His journey taught him about the land and moving water, its mysteries and magic. Rivers are special to us and the landscape we inhabit. They shape and define our world. They give us power and nourishment. They were the first highways, routes for conquest and flight. They acted as barriers and connections. they stir the imagination and reach into our souls. This is an exploration into the historical, geographical, social, cultural and industrial aspects of a river filled with the curiosities, forgotten characters and departed ways.

The Grass is Greener

The Grass is Greener

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/07/2008

Grass and its organisation into lawns is a particularly English obsession. If an Englishman's house is his castle, then his lawn is most certainly his estate. Occupying a place in the national psyche comparable to that of afternoon tea, the English concept of the ideal lawn has evolved and altered alomost beyond regognition since its first mention in the time of Henry III. Now Tom Fort traces its history, through famous lawns, to the present day. The English are universally acknowledged to be the lawn creators, coming up with most of the games played on grass, as well as the original grass-cutting machines. The lawn has aroused the wonder of the rest of the civilised world, and the Americans have fused to their conception of suburban bliss the ideal of the impeccably manicured lawn. This social history of grass is further enlivened by an introduction to the creator of the first lawnmower, Edwin Budding, by discussions with contemporary lawnsmen, and by witnessing the author's own attempt to create his perfect lawn.

Under the Weather

Under the Weather

Author: Tom Fort Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/01/2007

Tom Fort, whose writing has been variously described as 'jocund', 'slightly loopy', ' unbelievably poignant' and 'deeply peculiar', travels around Britain experiencing some of its extremer climates and some of its more typical with a view to explaining what we make and have made of the British weather and what it has made of us. There are two interlocking strands: the story of those who - moved to an exceptional, sometimes obsessive degree by the fascination felt by so many of us - sought to know and understand our weather; and the story of its impact on us - our history, our culture, the way we think and behave.He focuses on the people - the clergymen, the gentlemen of leisure, the crackpots, visionaries, charlatans and shysters, all now largely or utterly forgotten - who volunteered and toiled for the cause, telling their stories by tracking them down to the places - usually their own gardens - where they indulged their quite passion for measuring rainfall, scrutinising dewdrops, tapping their barometers and peering at their thermometers.Once their age - of the amateur scientist - was over, and the business of weather forecasting was annexed by professionals with state backing it became a less colourful affair. The historical strand is, in part, a straightforward chronology; an account of the part played by climate in our history; how, when the sun shone and rain fell in gentle abundance, we prospered and multiplied; how, when the climate cooled, bringing wet summers and savage winters, we perished by plague and famine and retreated from places made unbelievable; how in time, as we matured from a rural, peasant society, our weather became less a matter of life and death (though always on absorbing interest).But beyond that there is another dimension to its influence on us - the moral and spiritual one.This is contentious, but intriguing: the extent to which we share as view of 'our weather', and the extent to which it may have shaped us into the people we are.

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