Nearest Earthly Place to Paradise: The Literary Landscape of Shropshire

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9781906122522: Nearest Earthly Place to Paradise: The Literary Landscape of Shropshire

Shropshire has inspired many writers over the centuries: its bucolic rolling fields and orchards, its dramatic wild hills and moors, its ramshackle market towns, its patchwork of copses and hedgerows, its bleak and beautiful mountains. Extracts from Charles Dickens to Henry James, from Kathy Swift to AE Housman, from Bill Bryson to Pete Postlethwaite, are matched with stunning photographs by Shropshire's Geoffrey Taylor, who has captured the landscapes that drew out the words. Also featuring extracts from Samuel Johnson, Roger Evans, DH Lawrence, Henry Kingsley, Wilfred Owen, Mary Webb, John Milton, Simon Evans, Tom Sharpe, Edith Pargeter, Phil Rickman, John Masefield, John Betjeman, Ellis Peters and many more.

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About the Author:

Geoff Taylor lives in the Shropshire village of Rushbury. His early love of photography led to a first-class honours degree in the subject as a mature student, followed by a Masters in Art and Design. He is an Associate of The Royal Photographic Society and the British Institute of Professional Photography, and has exhibited throughout the UK. Geoff now works as a tutor in Photography and Digital Art with the Open College of the Arts. He enjoys various outdoor activities including hill walking with his wife Lorna.

Margaret Wilson lives in Leebotwood near Church Stretton. After working in Paris, Madrid and London. She enjoys walking in the hills, exploring the towns and villages and learning about the county's folklore.

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Bill Bryson Notes from a Small Island Ludlow was indeed a charming and agreeable place on a hilltop high above the River Teme. It appeared to have everything you could want in a community - bookshops, a cinema, some appealing-looking tearooms and bakeries, a couple of "family butchers" (I always want to go in and say, "How much to do mine?"), an old-fashioned Woolworth's and the usual assortment of chemists, pubs, haberdashers and the like, all neatly arrayed and respectful of their surroundings. The Ludlow Civic Society had thoughtfully put plaques up on many of the buildings announcing who had once lived there. One such hung on the wall of the Angel, an old coaching inn on Broad Street now sadly - and I hoped only temporarily - boarded up. According to the plaque, the famous Aurora coach once covered the hundred or so miles to London in just over twenty-seven hours, which just shows you how much we've progressed. Now British Rail could probably do it in half the time. Nearby I chanced upon the headquarters of an organization called the Ludlow and District Cats Protection League, which intrigued me. Whatever, I wondered, did the people of Ludlow do to their cats that required the setting up of a special protective agency? Perhaps I'm coming at this from the wrong angle, but short of setting cats alight and actually throwing them at me, I can't think of what you would have to do to drive me to set up a charity to defend their interests. It seemed extraordinary to me that there could be a whole, clearly well-funded office dedicated just to the safety and well-being of Ludlow and District cats. I was no less intrigued by the curiously specific limits of the society's self-imposed remit - the idea that they were interested only in the safety and well-being of Ludlow and District cats. What would happen, I wondered, if the members of the league found you teasing a cat just outside the district boundaries? Would they shrug resignedly and say, "Out of our jurisdiction"? Who can say? Henry James English Hours: A Portrait of a Country A friend of mine, an American who knew this country, had told me not to fail, while I was in the neighbourhood, to go to Stokesay and two or three other places. "Edward IV and Elizabeth", he said, "are still hanging about there." So admonished, I made a point of going at least to Stokesay, and I saw quite what my friend meant.

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