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Under the Rock

Benjamin Myers

Published by Elliott and Thompson

Carved from the land above Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, Scout Rock is a steep crag overlooking wooded slopes and weed-tangled plateaus. To many it is unremarkable; to others it is a doomed place where 18th-century thieves hid out, where the town tip once sat, and where suicides leapt to their deaths. Its brooding form presided over the early years of Ted Hughes, who called Scout Rock ‘my spiritual midwife . . . both the curtain and backdrop to existence'.

Into this beautiful, dark and complex landscape steps Benjamin Myers, asking: are unremarkable places made remarkable by the minds that map them? Seeking a new life and finding solace in nature's power of renewal, Myers excavates stories both human and elemental. The result is a lyrical and unflinching investigation into nature, literature, history, memory and the meaning of place in modern Britain.

Under the Rock is about badgers, balsam, history, nettles, mythology, moorlands, mosses, poetry, bats, wild swimming, slugs, recession, floods, logging, peacocks, community, apples, asbestos, quarries, geology, industrial music, owls, stone walls, farming, anxiety, relocation, the North, woodpiles, folklore, landslides, ruins, terriers, woodlands, ravens, dales, valleys, walking, animal skulls, trespassing, crows, factories, maps, rain-lots of rain—and a great big rock.

A bone-tingling book. — Richard Benson

Benjamin Myers is an author, journalist and poet. His novels include The Gallows Pole (2017), which received the Roger Deakin Award and was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize 2018; Turning Blue (2016); Beastings (2014) which won the Portico Prize For Literature and the Northern Writers' Award, was longlisted for a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award 2015 and chosen by Robert Macfarlane as one of his books of 2014; Pig Iron (2012), which won the inaugural Gordon Burn Prize and was runner-up in The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize; and Richard (2010), a Sunday Times Book of the Year. His journalism regularly appears in The Guardian, New Statesman, Mojo, Caught By The River, New Scientist and others. In 2017 he was selected as writer for the International Literature Showcase. He lives in the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.