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The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre by Madeleine Bunting

The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre

Biography / Autobiography   eBook Favourites   
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Sue Baker's view...

By concentrating on such a fragmentary piece of England Madeleine Bunting is able to tell us so much about the layer cake of history, the hundreds of lives passed in working this small patch but above all it is her attempt to understand her father that illuminates and strengthens the narrative. It makes for a most unusual biography, an intriguing one that records both thousands of years of history and one human life – that of her father, the sculptor, John Bunting.

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Who is Sue Baker


The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre by Madeleine Bunting

Guardian columnist Madeleine Bunting is one of the most high-profile commentators in Britain. Her father was deeply conservative, with romantic, old-fashioned views about England. After his death, wanting to understand him better, Bunting began to explore his passionate, lifelong attachment to a small plot of land in North Yorkshire. Delving deep into the rich history of this acre, she uncovers traces of its Neolithic inhabitants and of the Cistercian monks; she learns of the medieval battles and considers the changing face of agriculture and leisure. The result sheds a fascinating light on what a contested, layered place England is, and on what belonging to a place might mean to all of us. The Plot is an original, heartfelt, and deeply political book.


'Madeleine Bunting's multidimensional chronicle is among the very best pieces of non-fiction to have been published in a long while about what it is like to be English'
Simon Schama, Financial Times

'An intriguing and elegant chronicle of a wild and woolly patch of England - Bunting is on finest form dealing with recent history, particularly when she exposes the modern cultural myth of the rural idyllA and the very English idiocy of preserving this view while the environment dies. Her scholarship ultimately produces a persuasive argument for a more potent sense of place in rootless, mobile Britain'
Sunday Times

'Bunting's exploration of the relationships between place and people is wide-ranging, researched with great intelligence and richly supported by detail'

'A startling, willed, one-off book - What she sets out to do is to look at the acre of land in the middle of nowhereA , with scholarly zest, until it becomes no longer a nowhere but a somewhere, known and minutely understood. She is an exemplary guide - Her greatest achievement is to work a single acre to produce a more general portrait of England - Above all, she questions what belonging is and discovers that it is about commitment rather than possessionA '

About the Author

Madeleine Bunting is a leading columnist for the Guardian. Born in North Yorkshire, Bunting read History at Cambridge. She is the author of The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands under German Rule, 1940-45 and Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives (both HarperCollins). She lives in London with her husband and three children.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st July 2010


Madeleine Bunting

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Granta Books


304 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

Local history



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