Alan Garner is an exceptional lecturer and essayist. This collection, taken form the work of more that twenty years, explores an enviable range of scholarly interests: archaeology, myth, language, education, philosophy, the spiritual quest, mental health, literature, music and film. The book also serves as a poetic autobiography of one of England's best-loved but least public writers. He hears himself declared dead at the age of six; he draws on the deep vein of a rural working-class childhood in a family of craftsmen who instilled the passion for excellence and for invation and humour. The disciplines he learnt as a Classicist give a shape and clarity to that passion in this richly various book that would have fascinated his forebears, whose work and lives are also celebrated here. This most unusual, most candid, most vivid picture of an English family and its home, its country's history, is also a devastating revelation of a writer's own life. Alan Garner's account of his mental illness will become a classic, and each strand of the book will be a source of fascination to anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of an Alan Garner story, as also to all who concern themselves with the craft of writing.
Alan Garner was born in Congleton, Cheshire, in 1934 and grew up in Alderly Edge, where his father's family had lived for more than three hundred years. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and at Magdelen College, Oxford, after which he began writing his first novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, at the age of twenty-two. He is renowned as one of Britain's outstanding writers for young adults and has won many prizes for his writing. In 2001 he was awarded the OBE for services to literature. His books include Elidor, The Owl Service (winner of the Carnegie Medal) , Red Shift, The Stone Book Quartet (winner of the Phoenix Award of America) and, most recently, Strandloper.