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$35.00 pledged of $2,000 goal
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About this project

What:

Britain By the Slice is to be published as two volumes – hard copy, e-book, and audiobook – in which the Bapton Books partner, the historian, novelist, poet, and essayist GMW Wemyss, surveys Britain by gridline in his lambent prose. From North to South, from off Shetland to Kinnaird Head and due South to Dancing Ledge on the Channel coast; and from East to West from the White Cliffs to Devon’s Saunton Sands: Mr Wemyss shall don the mantle of a modern Cobbett, a 21st Century Celia Fiennes, rambling through deep history, psychogeography, and numinous landscapes.

Who:

GMW Wemyss is the author of the Village Tales series of novels (Cross and Poppy and the imminently forthcoming Evensong); a poet and critic, co-annotator and co-editor of cherished critical editions of Kipling’s Mowgli stories and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows; an historian (’37: the year of portent; The Confidence of the House: May 1940; the forthcoming The Crisis: July 1914; and When That Great Ship Went Down: the legal and political repercussions of the loss of RMS Titanic, an acclaimed centenary history of the US and UK Titanic enquiries, praised by James Delingpole, then of the Daily Telegraph (UK), and by Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Paris Contributing Columnist, The Sunday Telegraph (UK)); and a beloved West Country essayist (Sensible Places: Essays on place, time, & countryside). 

Why:

Why, then, a project for these volumes, when Bapton Books have not sought to crowdfund past publications?  

It’s quite simple. We’ve jogged along nicely thus far, with US partner Mr Pyle largely managing the business side and acting as commissioning editor for some series. But there’s a reason why the 1914 book did not, as planned, come out in November 2014. And that reason is that Mr Pyle suffered a heart attack in October 2014, and underwent a treble bypass a week after.

We have new authors coming in; new series to manage. And as Mr Pyle recovers, much of that administrative work has fallen upon Mr Wemyss. To complete the long-cherished dream of Britain By the Slice requires that he be absent for some time from the day to day running of the firm, in a way which the writing of novels and histories do not. And to do that and have the administrative work continued in his absence, requires a modicum of support during Mr Pyle’s medical leave.

For make no mistake. Mr Wemyss intends to do precisely what it says on the tin. To sail from off Mainland (Shetland), due South past Fair Isle and North Ronaldsay to Kinnaird Head in Aberdeenshire; to tramp South to Newburgh and sail thence past Aberdeen to Needles Eye at Berwick-upon-Tweed; and thence to slog due Southwards and so – over the Wall and through the Dales, through the North and the Midlands, from the Peak District to the Cotswolds – to the West Country and the Channel chop, ending on the Jurassic Coast at Dancing Ledge on the Dorset shore. And, as a second volume, to come ashore at Samphire Hoe, by Shakespeare Cliff, and journey ever Westwards, from the gardens of Kent and the ancient Weald, through Saxon and cricketing Hants and ancient Wiltshire landscapes, cidery Somerset, chalk downs and wild moors, by Exmoor’s hem to Saunton Sands on the North Devon coast and the long Atlantic surge, haunted by Kingsley’s privateers and Kipling’s Stalky, Beetle, and M’Turk.

From butterflies to best bitter, ghosts and legends and local cheeses, historic events to literary associations to Roman remains and ancient henges, Mr Wemyss is determined, in Britain By the Slice, to interpret, to celebrate, and to record Britain with a son’s love, a keen eye, and a poet’s heart.

Where it goes and what it is for:

To do so under current circumstances, however, requires a certain amount of overhead expenses.... Specifically, dosh to hire out a bit of the incidental expenses attendant upon Mr Wemyss’ absence on this project whilst Mr Pyle is on medical leave, so that there is someone to assist with editing and proofing whilst Mr Wemyss is fell-walking with a notebook in hand (and Mr Pyle is cursing his rehabilitative nurses and grumbling at his exercises and diet and work restrictions).

If you wish to be a part of this project, you also shall have taken part in a worthy journey; in celebration and preservation of the deep history and modern vibrancy of this green and pleasant land.

When:

An expected publication date of September 2017 is projected, as Britain By the Slice is to be published in three formats in two volumes.

Risks and challenges

There are two identifiable threats unique to this project.

The first is the possible (although not probable) death or incapacity of Mr Pyle, leaving Mr Wemyss to defer the project so as to take on his mantle permanently in the managing of new authors and the commissioning of new series.

The second is that Mr Wemyss, like any and each of us, may always, conceivably, manage to die before completing the task. However, although anyone’s soul may any night be required of him, Mr Wemyss is in rude health for a man who’s rising fifty-three.

Unlike The Crisis: July 1914, delayed by Mr Pyle’s illness, and prior co-publications, Britain By the Slice is not a collaboration, any more than are Mr Wemyss’ novels: such that Mr Pyle’s recovery of his health is not a material factor in any foreseeable delay or incompletion of the project.

And short of war, disaster, a bitter break-up of the Union, or the remote contingency of Author Existence Failure, Mr Wemyss, as his publication history attests, may be relied upon to finish a project on time and to order. (Moreover, he has left instructions with Mr Pyle to have the project completed, should Mr Wemyss die or be put in hospital, by another Bapton Books author – preferably, if he be willing, the Gloucestershire ghost-story author and scholar of history, George Knight.)

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