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  • Published: 13 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241669631
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $55.00

The Britannias

An Island Quest

The story of Britain told through its islands - a personal journey through an ancient landscape

The Britannias tells the story of Britain's islands and how they are woven into its collective cultural psyche. From Neolithic Orkney to modern-day Thanet, Alice Albinia explores the furthest reaches of Britain's island topography, once known (wrote Pliny) by the collective term, Britanniae. Sailing over borders, between languages and genres, trespassing through the past to understand the present, this book knocks the centre out to foreground neglected epics and subversive voices.

The ancient mythology of islands ruled by women winds through the literature of the British Isles - from Roman colonial-era reports, to early Irish poetry, Renaissance drama to Restoration utopias - transcending and subverting the most male-fixated of ages. The Britannias looks far back into the past for direction and solace, while searching for new meaning about women's status in the body politic. Boldly upturning established truths about Britain, it pays homage to the islands' beauty, independence and their suppressed or forgotten histories.

  • Published: 13 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241669631
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $55.00

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Praise for The Britannias

Spellbinding... an impressive achievement.

New Statesman

PRAISE FOR CWEM: 'A wild, original, surefooted feminist reimagining of the present and the past that brushes up against the mythical. It reminds us, eloquently and passionately, what is or can be possible, and in its depiction of a revolutionary becomes revolutionary itself. Beautiful work'

Neel Mukherjee

A wild ride! She sees Graves' White Goddess and raises 50 with female magic and transformations.

Margaret Atwood

Magical, rich and magnificent.

Maxine Peake

A dazzlingly brilliant book. Travelling by boat, swimming through kelp, riding on a fishing trawler, Alice Albinia takes us on an extraordinary journey around the British isles, revealing a liquid past where women ruled and mermaids sang and tracing the sea-changes of her own heart.

Hannah Dawson

By looking more closely at the periphery, we might learn something new about the centre ... Albinia’s prose is impressive ... the main impression given by The Britannias is the uniqueness of our outlying islands, each one entire unto itself.

Guy Stagg, Financial Times

Islands always intrigue, hovering on the horizons of our imaginations ... [Albinia] makes memorable connections, meets some engaging people and offers some salutary observations.

Derek Turner, The Spectator

A passionate rich work of historical scholarship and poetic imagination.

Xiaolu Guo, author of Radical: A Life of My Own

An artful book of waterways and wildernesses, monastic havens and tax havens. A fascinating demonstration that Britain ‘singular’ is shorthand for something tectonically, volcanically plural.

Amy Jeffs, author of Storyland and Wild

Bewitching and illuminating, glinting with possibilities… I’ll be thinking about The Britannias for a long time.

Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley

Fascinating, often exhilarating ... By the end of her survey readers may wonder how the term "island mentality" ever became a disparagement. It should connote not small-mindedness but radical, progressive, sometimes magical thinking. ... Albinia is an intrepid, imaginative guide, an adventurer for our more environmentally conscious age.

Miranda France, Times Literary Supplement

There are books crafted from research, worthy and informative. And there are books that happen. That need to happen. That feel inevitable. As if they have always, somehow, been there waiting for us. The voyages of Alice Albinia around our ragged fringes range through time, recovering and resurrecting the most potent myths. A work of integrity and vision.

Iain Sinclair