The search for an ideal society has intrigued us for thousands of years. Politicians, writers and philosophers of every generation have proposed their visions, from Plato's Republic and Thomas More's Utopia, to William Morris's News from Nowhere and H.G. Wells' A Modern Utopia.
This year, during the five-hundredth anniversary of More's seminal work, the acclaimed poet and novelist John Burnside visits the remote island of Havergey, where he explores the idea of utopia through various objects in the landscapes – an old farmhouse, the walled garden, the seaside cottage and wind turbine. Each of these human interventions, built by different generations of island-dweller, expands Burnside's thoughts on energy, agriculture and housing, forming an extraordinary and highly original book about expressions of our failed attempt at creating utopia, both in our place and how the physical marks we leave in a landscape are often a private and public lives.
John Burnside is a poet, novelist, journalist and former software engineer. He is the author of Burning Elvis, Glister and A Summer of Drowning. His memoir A Lie About My Father won many awards including the Saltaire Prize for Scottish Book of the Year. His poetry includes The Asylum Dance, which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and Feast Days, winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial prize. He writes a nature column for The New Statesman.