Author(s): Richard King
A Book of the Year, ROUGH TRADE
A Book of the Year, MOJO
The Lark Ascending is a lyrical exploration of how Britain's history and identity has been shaped by the mysterious relationship between its people, its music and the landscape. Taking Ralph Vaughan Williams’s most celebrated and popular composition as a starting point, The Lark Ascending examines attempts made throughout the twentieth century to redefine and reimagine our natural world in the hope of realising the sense of freedom symbolised by a lark in flight.
King’s pilgrimage into rural Britain takes him from the west coast of Wales to the Lothian Hills, from the Thames Estuary to the Suffolk shoreline – and from Vaughan Williams to the more radical folk revivalists of the 1930s; from Under Milk Wood to Kes; from the Back to the Land movement of the 1970s to songs sung around the fires that provided warmth to the Greenham Common women’s peace camp; from the Kinder Scout mass trespass to the Castlemorton free festival.
It is a journey that questions the bucolic fantasy of a 'Green and Pleasant Land' and celebrates instead the communal experience of gathering together under open skies to the accompaniment of music, the art form that Vaughan Williams insisted was the ‘soul of a nation’.
The Lark Ascending is a national story that hasn’t previously been told; a celebration of the changing nature of the British countryside.
For the last eighteen years Richard King has lived in the hill farming country of Radnor, Powys. He has written for the Guardian, Vice, Observer and many other publications He was the co-editor of Loops. He is the author of Original Rockers, which was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize, and How Soon Is Now?, both published by Faber. This most recent book, The Lark Ascending, was published in 2019, and was a Rough Trade, Mojo and Evening Standard Book of the Year.