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Archipelago: A Reader – ebook via Glassboxx

Edited by: Fiona Stafford , Nicholas Allen

Publication Date: 11 November 2021


‘Archipelago met and extended my own strong sense, nearly fifteen years ago now, that there was a need to turn the compass-rose of some story-telling and art in Britain and Ireland, away from the south and east and towards the north and west; away from the metropolis and towards rural and littoral margins. Much about McNeillie’s vision for Archipelago appealed to me and to others: its commitment to a paper-only existence; its recognition that no landscape (or seascape) speaks only in one voice — and the hospitality its pages therefore offered to Welsh, Irish and Gaelic-language work; and its wish to bring artists together with writers, and even musicians, to celebrate and commemorate the human and natural cultures of, especially, the Atlantic coasts. It formed an important twist in the braid of what has become known as ‘new nature writing’ in Britain and beyond, it lit up a tradition of coastal place-culture that goes back as far as early Celtic Christian poetry, and I feel fortunate to have been part of its journey.’ – Robert Macfarlane

Archipelago is one of the most important and influential literary magazines of the last twenty years. Running to twelve editions, it was edited by Andrew McNeillie, with the assistance later of James McDonald Lockhart, and began as an attempt to reimagine the relationships between the islands of Ireland and Britain. Archipelago has brought together established and emerging artists in creative conversations that have transformed the study of islands, coasts and waterways. It journeys from the Shetlands to Cornwall, from the Aran Islands to the coast of Yorkshire, tracing the cultures of diverse zones through some of the best in contemporary writing about place and people.

This collection gathers poetry, prose, visual art and newly commissioned work in clusters grouped around the Irish and British archipelago, with contributions from an array of significant artists.

With 50 contributors, Archipelago: A Reader includes writings from:

  • Moya Cannon
  • Deirdre Ní Chonghaile
  • Tim Dee
  • David Douglas
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Kathleen Jamie
  • Michael Longley
  • Robert Macfarlane
  • Derek Mahon
  • Andrew McNeillie
  • Sinéad Morrissey
  • Richard Murphy
  • James MacDonald Lockhart
  • Alice Oswald
  • and many more!

‘A hefty reminder of everything that was good about what McNeillie & co produced over the magazine’s twelve editions.’ Times Literary Supplement

Archipelago: A Reader includes a remarkable abundance of good writing and poems.’ – Michael Viney, The Irish Times

‘Archipelago is a vast, commodious and engrossing accumulation of a wealth of environmental and topographical observation and appraisal. A slow accumulation, for the pieces gathered here are all reflective and discerning, and sometimes elegiac or idiosyncratic.’ Patricia Craig, Dublin Review of Books

‘This book is thrilling: it leaves the reader scrambling for ground: Is every possible interpretation or nuance about archipelagoes contained here? The possibility enthrals. Within the compendium individual writers reveal their own sources so the effect is like a Russian doll of mysteries within mysteries. The editors are to be praised for uniting these threads into a rare and colourful garment.’ Dan MacCarthy, Irish Examiner


Nicholas Allen holds an endowed professorship in humanities at the University of Georgia. His latest book is Ireland, Literature, and the Coast: Seatangled (Oxford, 2020).

Fiona Stafford is Professor of English at University of Oxford (UK). Her books include Local Attachments (2010), The Long, Long Life of Trees (2016) and The Brief Life of Flowers (2017).



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Publication Date

11 November 2021


Paperback with flaps, 568pp

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