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  • Published: 14 December 2021
  • ISBN: 9780857526922
  • Imprint: Doubleday
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $39.99

London Clay

Journeys in the Deep City

London Clay is an exploration of the stories that make a city. Written in rich and vivid prose, Chivers leads us on a journey to find the source of his memories, and to discover lost rivers, secret woodlands, the marshes and islands long buried beneath the city he loves.

'A beguiling mix of history, geology, folklore and memoir that captivated me from the first page.' Lara Maiklem, author of MudlarkingWhat 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, 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

  • Published: 14 December 2021
  • ISBN: 9780857526922
  • Imprint: Doubleday
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $39.99

About the author

Tom Chivers

Tom Chivers is a poet and publisher. He is the author of two pamphlets and two full collections of poetry to date, and is director of the independent press Penned in the Margins. In 2008 he was the Bishopsgate Institute's first writer in residence, and has appeared widely at events and made a number of contributions to radio, including presenting a 30 minute documentary for Radio 4. He has collaborated with the climate arts organisation Cape Farewell and conducts immersive walking tours of London. Chivers is currently an Associate Artist of the National Centre for Writing.

Praise for London Clay

London, investigated through the medium of psycho-geology, is revealed as a nexus of energies, interconnections, memories and resurrections. 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 London Orbital

We are none of us here for long. Our lives matter hugely and yet in the great scheme of things not at all. This book grapples with our predicament in an entirely original way. 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

Chivers traces London's hidden landscape armed only with his curiosity and a home-made geology map. His poet's knack of sensing unlikely connections makes this one of the most original books about the capital in years. Like Iain Sinclair with a trowel. Spellbinding.

Matt Brown, Londonist

Gentle, all-observant Tom is the perfect guide for this exploration of London's nooks and crannies, places I thought I knew well and places I didn't even know existed. His beguiling mix of history, geology, folklore and memoir captivated me from the first page.

Lara Maiklem, author of Mudlarking

This is London from the ground up, filled with a sense of wonderment at the strangeness of the city, from its earliest origins to the present day. 'London Clay' digs into the bedrock, soil, water and stone roots of London in a fascinating exploration that's part memoir, part geological survey.

Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant & May mysteries

London Clay is a gift of a book, one to give to yourself, to friends and those who have curious minds about what makes a city. It speaks to the urban explorer in us all providing a practical guide as well being filled with a plethora of great stories.

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London

London re-enchanted. From the heart of the old city to the distant edgelands, London Clay is a wonderfully multi-layered meander through a landscape at once familiar and strange. A portrait of a haunted, mysterious city and a moving work of personal memoir.

Helen Gordon, author of Notes from Deep Time.

A seriously compelling book, full of powerful, overlooked history, supressed emotion - moving, entertaining and a significant addition to the London canon.

Tom Bolton, author of London's Lost Rivers: A Walker's Guide

A delightful narrative of the deep city...a multitude of revelations brought to light.

Jules Stewart, Geographical Magazine

Periodic surprises even for the most dedicated student of this subject ... movingly written.

Caroline Crampton, Spectator

Will open readers' eyes to what is around and below them ... Its delight in exploration is matched by a thoughtful meditation on grief.


A lyrical meditation on landscapes and cities, vivid reportage and a memoir. And also a beautifully realised and moving read.

Dzifa Benson, Financial Times

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.


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