Shackleton’s Man Goes South

Photo: Science Museum

Photo: Science Museum

I’ll be reading from my Science Museum novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South at the Polar Museum, Cambridge on Thursday 15 September, and at the Estuary Festival 2016 in Tilbury Docks on Saturday 17 September.

With Shackleton’s Man Goes South, Tony White has written a bold novel-cum-manifesto, a prophecy, satire, and warning, and a gripping polar allegory for the era of global warming and human trafficking. In the steps of Swift, Blake and Aldous Huxley, he brings a puzzlemaster’s ingenuity, a political observer’s despair, a voracious appetite for geo-political knowledge and a storyteller’s sense to create a stark vision of a future that may be coming sooner than anyone can bear to think. Marina Warner

Shackleton’s Man Goes South was published by the Science Museum as their Atmosphere Commission 2013, and was the first novel they had ever published. Being published by the Science Museum was also a chance to experiment. The novel was published in ebook formats for free giveaway by the Museum—online and via a specially developed touchscreen ‘ebook dispenser’—and in a paperback exclusively available from the Science Museum shop. An accompanying exhibition about the novel ran in the Museum’s Atmosphere Gallery for two years until spring 2015.

You can still download the novel free in PDF from the Science Museum website here.

Photo: Science Museum

Photo: Science Museum


The Polar Museum, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1ER. Thursday 15 September, 18:00 – 20:30. FREE but booking essential.

Shackleton’s Man Goes South will be in the Shorelines main auditorium, Tilbury Cruise Terminal, Ferry Road, Thurrock RM18 7NG. Saturday 17 September, 12:00 noon – 12:25. FREE — Full programme and travel info on the Shorelines site.

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Bourn again

I am thrilled to be publishing ‘Subjective Interfaces’ by UK video art pioneer Ian Bourn on Piece of Paper Press. I have greatly admired Ian’s work for a long time, and ‘Subjective Interfaces’ is an important and unflinching piece of writing. The book will be launched at PEER on Hoxton Street on Monday 19 September.

Photo: Robert Ellis

Photo: Robert Ellis

Here’s the blurb:

Piece of Paper Press and PEER are delighted to invite you to celebrate the launch of ‘Subjective Interfaces’ by Ian Bourn, a British artist best known for his pioneering work in video art from the late 1970s onwards.

Bourn uses fictional characters and the monologue form to speculate ‘how things might go’ in terms of an imagined or exaggerated autobiography, also exploring ideas of the author as the hero of his or her own story. With works such as Lenny’s Documentary (1978), Bourn established what Felicity Sparrow describes as ‘his own pantheon of imaginary tragi-comic characters, pitched somewhere between Tony Hancock and Harold Pinter’ (Luxonline, 2005). In Subjective Interfaces this process of creating fictional personas seems to be both exhausted and reversed as B finds that when he is forced by circumstances to be himself and in order to maintain his dignity and humour in face of the stigma of unemployment and workfare, the persona of the artist may be all that he has left.

The launch event will include a reading, and a screening of Ian Bourn’s Breathing Days (1992).

‘Subjective Interfaces’ by Ian Bourn is produced in a numbered limited edition of 200, of which up to 75 copies will be distributed free at the launch.


PEER, 97-99 Hoxton St, London N1 6Q. Monday 19 September, 6:30 – 8:30. There will be a reading by Ian Bourn at 7:15.

Read more about ‘Subjective Interfaces’ by Ian Bourn on the PEER website. (Photo: Robert Ellis.)

Read more about Piece of Paper Press

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Panel beating #9 — Polar Museum

I am delighted to be giving a reading from my Science Museum novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South and taking part in a panel discussion for Ways of Knowing the Polar Regions: Past, Present and Future, at the Polar Museum in Cambridge on 15 September. Here’s the blurb:

shackleton book 512x512pxThe Arctic and Antarctic have long claimed a strong hold on the western imagination, but climate change has given these regions new prominence and meaning. How much do we know about future scenarios for these sensitive regions, and how should we tell those stories today in a way that might change the future for the better? Is the future the next frontier for explorers and storytellers?

This free public event will explore these themes with contributions from climate modeller Tamsin Edwards (Open University), oceanographer Mark Brandon (Open University), Cambridge Polar Museum curator Charlotte Connelly, poet Nick Drake (author of Arctic-themed poem cycle ‘The Farewell Glacier’) and writer Tony White (former Science Museum writer in residence and author of the Science Museum published climate change novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South). Broadcaster and writer Dallas Campbell (presenter of BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory and City in the Sky) will introduce and chair the event. It is co-organised by the University of Cambridge Polar Museum and The Mediating Change Group, which is based jointly at the Open University Geography Department and the University of Sheffield School of Architecture.


Ways of Knowing the Polar Regions: Past, Present and Future — The Polar Museum, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1ER. Thursday, 15 September, 18:00 to 20:30. FREE but booking essential.

You can still download a free PDF of Shackleton’s Man Goes South from the Science Museum website.

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Hope to see you there

If you would like to receive invites to future book launches and special events, to find out about limited editions or to come and see me live, you can sign up to my Tiny Letter mailing list. I have some exciting events lining up for the autumn, including A Place Free of Judgement by Blast Theory and Tony White, and readings at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge and the Estuary Festival (in the incredible Tilbury Cruise Terminal), plus more yet to be announced. If you would like to receive invites from me and my publishers and producers to these and other forthcoming readings, book launches and other special events and limited editions, do please feel free to sign up here.

Tony White reading at Beaconsfield, London. Photo © Marianne Magnin, 2015

Tony White reading at Beaconsfield, London. Photo © Marianne Magnin, 2015


Listen to ‘High-Lands’, Tony White’s short story for radio, commissioned by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm for Remote Performances and broadcast live from the Outlandia Studio on the slopes of Glen Nevis, Scotland in August 2014, with live accompaniment from Johny Brown

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Shorelines programme released

Estuary Festival has just released the programme for Shorelines, its Literature festival weekend in September.

Talks, events, exhibition, performance & boats with 70 writers, artists and filmmakers responding to the Thames Estuary. Including walks, family activities and tours of the Port of Tilbury. Shorelines Literature Festival has been curated by acclaimed author Rachel Lichtenstein and includes talks and readings by Deborah Levy, Horatio Clare, Rose George, Patrick Wright, archaeologists, artists, writers, film makers and even a prince to explore the unexpected history, people and geography of the Thames Estuary and wider global waterways.

shackleton book 512x512pxI am delighted to be a part of this great festival, and to be reading from my Science Museum novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South in the Departures Lounge of Tilbury Cruise Terminal at 12:00 noon on Saturday 17.

Here is my own personal selection of just some of the Shorelines weekend’s highlights. (SEE THE FULL PROGRAMME HERE.)

Saturday 17 September 2016

SHORELINES MAIN AUDITORIUM  (Departures Lounge, Tilbury Cruise Terminal)

2.303.10pm: Sea Forts of the Estuary

Acclaimed writer, Rachel Lichtenstein (Estuary: Out from London to the Sea, 2016 Hamish Hamilton) brings together Prince Michael of Sealand with artists Stephen Turner and Chloe Dewe Mathews to talk about filming, being in residence, a Declaration of Independence from the UK, pirates, kidnap, government plots and other adventures on the Principality of Sealand and other Sea Forts in the outer reaches of the Thames Estuary.

3.203.40pm: An Unfathomable Ship? Uwe Johnson’s view of the Richard Mongomery

Professor of Literature and Visual & Material Culture at King’s College London, Patrick Wright considers the view across the Estuary from the window of the East German novelist who lived at 26 Marine Parade, Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey from 1974 until 1984, culminating in the masts of the Richard Montgomery.

4.305pm: Arrivals and Departures

For nearly 300 years, the London docks were the busiest in Europe, trading goods from across the world, as well as a point of arrival for immigrants from the colonies and beyond.

Writer on architecture, landscape and public policy, Ken Worpole draws on the memories of those who worked in the dockyards, as well as those for whom landfall in London was the beginning of a new life in a new country. His talk will draw on the photographs of Mike Seaborne and Jason Orton, with whom he has collaborated on books about the landscape and history of the Thames and Essex coastline.

4-4.30pm: Vulgar Things

Author Lee Rourke reads from his novel Vulgar Things, (2014 Fourth Estate) described as part mystery, part romance, part odyssey, and discusses myths and landscapes. N.B. This event is in the SHORELINES SALON (Wren Suite, Tilbury Cruise Terminal)


Sunday 18 September 2016

LOWER LANDING STAGE (Tilbury Cruise Terminal)

6am  Raga Dawn

Performance at sunrise by acclaimed vocal performance artist, Caroline Bergvall, with singer Peyee Chen in a unique composition by Gavin Bryars and a site-specific sound design by Sam Grant. Followed by a communal breakfast.

Performance starts at 6.38am – the official moment of Sunrise that day.

Tickets are free, Booking is essential – BOOK HERE


SHORELINES MAIN AUDITORIUM  (Departures Lounge, Tilbury Cruise Terminal)

1111.25am: Seawitches and Sirens: Echoes of past lives in the Estuary

Mystery writer Syd Moore shares her research into the myths surrounding the Estuary, including Sarah Moore, the seawitch of Leigh, and the lost continent of Doggerland.

11.3011.55am: Black Mariners on C18th Estuary

Author, curator, lecturer and researcher in multi-ethnic and military histories Steve Martin provides an overview of the Black presence in South Essex and North Kent and its centuries-long seafaring connections.

1212.25pm: Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone

Artist, Graham Harwood presents YoHa’s ongoing enquiry into the Thames Estuary that uses art to stir up the murky, muddy world of South Essex, preoccupied by the genealogical, ecological and political complexity of the Thames.

3.10-3:40pm: Public Record: Estuary

Essex-based, US writer, Justin Hopper’s audio poetry project explores the land and seascape of Leigh-on-Sea, creating poetry from 19th-century newspaper reports of minor shipwrecks and calamities.

13238897_497192330481062_3862063152924813017_n4.204.50pm: To the Lighthouse

Booker shortlisted author Deborah Levy (Swimming Home, Faber & Faber, 2012) discusses Virginia Woolf’s seminal novel, To The Lighthouse.

55.30pm: The Sea Is an Edge and an Ending.

Writer and artist Lavinia Greenlaw introduces her Estuary 2016 artwork.  Set along the coast, this short film is a study of the impact of dementia on our sense of time and place, drawing on Shakespeare’s Tempest focusing on what it means for your sense of self to come loose, for the past to float free, and to exist increasingly in the present tense.

Stranger on the Shore (triptych) – 90min

Michael Smith and Maxy Bianco

It’s different by the sea. A bit strange even. Literally, at the edges, the coast has always been a site of myth, eccentricity, transgression and romance. Stranger On The Shore is a cycle of short films exploring these threshold places. the first explores the hinterlands of the Thames Estuary, the second, Hastings and the third, the north-eastern seaside town of Whitby.

Maybe see you there ;)


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Listen to free audiobook extracts of Shackleton’s Man Goes South

Download Shackleton’s Man Goes South as a free PDF direct from publisher the Science Museum

The road to Cannon Street

Many thanks to Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives for drawing my attention to this extract of Morden and Lea’s map of London from c. 1700, showing the area south of Whitechapel in East London. The reader may readily recognise the lie of the land, with White Chapel and the Tower of London the most obvious landmarks. What is here called White Horse Street and White Horse Lane will become Commercial Road. Similarly ‘Knock Fergus’ may be better known to contemporary readers as Cable Street, etc. The path of what will become Fieldgate Street is marked by a dotted line running across the fields; hence the name.

Reproduced with permission of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Reproduced with permission of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Other significant landmarks are absent. Dating as it does from around 1690 or 1700, this map does not show Hawksmoor’s church of St George in the East, which was not yet built; construction would begin in 1714.

FoxyTpbk_frontI was particularly interested to see a Cannon Street on Morden and Lea’s map (south of Knock Fergus, roughly in the centre of the lower right-hand quarter of the map) running down the west side of the plot that St George in the East would come to occupy. Here perhaps is the origin of the current and oddly named Cannon Street Road, i.e. the road to Cannon Street. If you continue the line of Morden and Lea’s Cannon Street north across the fields to Whitehorse Lane/Commercial Road you will get an idea of its current location, intersecting as it does with Commercial Road roughly in the area of the word ‘White’, on the north edge of the field numbered ‘16’.


The reason for my particular interest of course is that Cannon Street Road forms the location for my 2003 novel Foxy-T, which is set in a fictional internet shop, roughly where the ‘1’ is marked on this sketch (which was drawn in case a map was needed for the Croatian edition of the novel, but never used).

The numbered locations from the novel are as follows:

  1. E-Z CALL

Foxy-T was written in what has subsequently become known and studied as Multicultural London English (MLE), and the novel was recently included in the grammar text book Mastering Practical Grammar by Sara Thorne (Palgrave).

You can read more about Foxy-T and Cannon Street Road in this article on publisher Faber and Faber’s blog, which was published on the tenth anniversary of publication.

I understand that parts of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives are currently closed for building renovation, but you can browse their catalogue here. They are also on Twitter, where in recent weeks they have been posting recently digitised archive photographs from the 1960s and 1970s, which are equally fascinating.

A ‘zoomable’ (though less detailed) later edition of Morden and Lea’s entire map is available to view on the British Library website.

Cannon Street Road © Daniel Wootton, 2005

Cannon Street Road © Daniel Wootton, 2005


The website of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Tower Hamlets Archives on Twitter

Selected press about Foxy-T

Buy Foxy-T direct from publisher Faber and Faber

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