What secrets lie beneath a city?
Tom Chivers follows hidden pathways, explores lost islands and uncovers the geological mysteries that burst up through the pavement and bubble to the surface of our streets. From Roman ruins to a submerged playhouse, from an abandoned Tube station to underground rivers, Chivers leads us on a journey into the depths of the city he loves.
A lyrical interrogation of a capital city, a landscape and our connection to place, London Clay celebrates urban edgelands: in-between spaces where the natural world and the metropolis collide. Through a combination of historical research, vivid reportage and personal memoir, it will transform how you see London, and cities everywhere.
Tom Chivers is a writer, publisher and arts producer. He was born in 1983 in south London. He has released two pamphlets and two collections of poetry, the latest being Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015). His poems have been anthologized in Dear World & Everything In It and London: A History in Verse. He was shortlisted for the Michael Marks and Edwin Morgan Poetry Awards and received an Eric Gregory Award in 2011.
Tom has made perambulatory, site-specific and audio work for organisations including LIFT, Cape Farewell, Humber Mouth and Southbank Centre. He was writer in residence at Bishopsgate Institute and associate artist of the National Centre of Writing. In 2009 he presented a documentary for BBC Radio 4 about the poet Barry MacSweeney. In 2011 an animated film of his poem The Event was broadcast by Channel 4's Random Acts. He lives in Rotherhithe with his wife and daughters.
"Will open readers' eyes to what is around and below them [...] Its delight in exploration is matched by a thoughtful meditation on grief."
"Periodic surprises even for the most dedicated student of this subject [...] movingly written."
– Caroline Crampton, Spectator
"Incredible [...] More than a simply a cracking read, it's a book that will inspire you to go out and make your own discoveries. You'll never look at the city in the same way again."
"[Chivers] combines the modern phenomenon of psycho-geographer with the ancient trade of poet [...] Action-packed, erudite [...] an audiobook to savour slowly."
– Christina Hardyment, The Times
"Tom Chivers, with the forensic eye of an investigator, the soul of a poet, is an engaging presence; a guide we would do well to follow."
– Iain Sinclair, author of The Last London
"A beguiling mix of history, geology, folklore and memoir that captivated me from the first page."
– Lara Maiklem, author of Mudlarking
"It's entertaining, enlightening and deeply moving. You will learn something about London and a good deal about life."
– Justin Webb
"An absorbing and poetic psycho-geology of London [...] an immersive deep trawl among the city's many layers, unearthing medieval Essex rebels, contemporary mudlarks of the lower Thames, lost rivers of silt and sewage, the Shard as Sauron's Dark Tower, and the existential angst of living in the Anthropocene epoch [...] Fascinating."
– Christopher Somerville, The Times walking correspondent
"A delightful narrative of the deep city [...] a multitude of revelations brought to light."
– Jules Stewart, Geographical Magazine