In 2009, Richard Skelton published his first book, Landings, a deeply personal and unique response to the moorland landscape of Anglezarke, near his birthplace in south-west Lancashire, UK. Written over the course of half a decade, the book is assembled from a diverse array of materials: texts excised from his own notebooks and diaries are combined with excerpts from census and parish records, maps and historical treatises. The result is what Skelton terms ‘mosaic sequences of reclaimed fragments’ - discrete but connected strands forming an oblique and poignant testimony to personal grief, a meditation on memory and forgetting, a conjuring of the ghosts and voices of a landscape, and an exposition of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on rural lives.
‘One of the key works of 21st-century English-language landscape art/writing’. (Justin Hopper)
‘A pained record-keeping of the Anglezarke moor – a textual summoning-back of its lost and forgotten … litanies spoken against loss’. (Robert Macfarlane)
‘A sustained reflection on the nature of land and biography. … An idiosyncratic archiving of local topographies and the secrets they hold.’ (Martyn Hudson)
Between 2009 and 2011, Skelton significantly expanded Landings from 96 to 292 pages, writing about the landscape in absentia, whilst living in rural Ireland. The book included over 70 pages of appendices, gathering together the bulk of his research about Anglezarke itself: dialect glossaries, cartographic records and lists of names, dates and places drawn from various sources, all carefully catalogued and indexed. It is as if he was attempting to assemble his own private archive, rather than write a conventional book.
In preparation since 2015, this tenth anniversary edition of Landings contains expanded notes and commentary by the author, along with two new essays and six poems that, among other things, reflect on things lost now found, and the supra-lingual power of the photographic image.