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  • Published: 7 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784704131
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.99

The Stopping Places

A Journey Through Gypsy Britain

A journey through Gypsy Britain with a dazzling new writer and native son of the Romany community

'I needed to get to the stopping places, so I needed to get on the road. It was the road where I might at last find out where I belonged.'

Damian Le Bas grew up surrounded by Gypsy history. His great-grandmother would tell him stories of her childhood in the ancient Romani language; the places they worked, the ways they lived, the superstitions and lores of their people.

In a bid to better understand his heritage, Damian sets out on a journey to discover the stopping places - the old encampment sites known only to Travellers. Through winter frosts and summer dawns, from horse fairs to Gypsy churches, Damian lives on the road, somewhere between the romanticised Gypsies of old, and their much-maligned descendants of today.

'A beautiful writer who seems born to tell this fascinating story' Amy Liptrot

Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award
Shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award
Longlisted for the Wainwright Prize

  • Published: 7 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784704131
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Damian Le Bas

Damian Le Bas was born in 1985 into a long line of Gypsies and Travellers. He was raised within a network of relations who taught him how to ride and drive ponies, tractors and trucks, sing melancholy cowboy ballads and speak the thousand-year-old Romani tongue. He was awarded scholarships to study at Christ’s Hospital and the University of Oxford. Between 2011 and 2015 he was the editor of Travellers’ Times, Britain’s only national magazine for Gypsies and Travellers. The Stopping Places is his first book.

Damian lives and works mostly in Kent, with his wife (the actor Candis Nergaard); and Sussex, where he grew up and where his nan – who taught him the old Romany Travellers’ little-known routes and ways – both still live.

Praise for The Stopping Places

This enthralling, eye-opening and beautifully written book takes the form of an odyssey through Gypsy Britain and its history

Caroline Sanderson, Editor's Choice, The Bookseller

The Stopping Places is a beautiful book about belonging: both a map of a secret landscape and a rich, thoughtful memoir of a divided life. Damian Le Bas is the perfect guide to this often-overlooked geography. He is a scholar-Gypsy whose writing is lyrical, informed, and deeply humane

Jon Day

An insight into the hidden world and culture of travelling people, written with delicacy and affection

Ken Loach

An illuminating journey into a British culture and landscape about which most of us know nothing. This is a beautiful, important and revelatory book from a graceful new voice

Patrick Barkham

This book moves at the pace of a horse pulling a Gypsy wagon. It's wonderful. Slow down and relax as Damian takes you on his year-long journey seeking out the places in the UK - the atchin tans - where his people, the Romany Gypsies, have stopped, worked, lived, loved and fought since time immemorial. It's a delicate balance between romance and history, information and folklore, language, history, keen observations of people, deep love of nature , the minutiae of daily routine and glimpses into his own personal life, all in easy prose that frequently slips into poetry. A breath of very fresh air

Peggy Seeger

In The Stopping Places, Damian Le Bas takes us on a fascinating journey through Gypsy Britain. Full of spark, tenderness and lyricism, this beautiful book reveals to us a world still largely secret, complex with enchantment and unease, rich language and blood ties, rough weather and shining poetry. Le Bas is a wonderful guide, open-hearted and curious, always respectful, as he ventures into the past and present of his own community, seeking what it means to roam and to belong

Liz Berry

Tender and intensely lyrical ... the prose is pure delight. The author breathes life into everything he sees ... To read The Stopping Places is to better understand the curious history of the Roma and how they have survived into 21st-century Britain

Jackie Annesley, The Sunday Times

I loved Damian Le Bas's beautiful, questioning memoir, at once an introduction into a hidden world and a profound meditation on belonging and difference

Olivia Laing

A fine prose style, vividly conjuring the smell of a hop pillow, the whinnying of a horse fair and the 'wet-look hairstyles' of the men, as well as the dead cold of a wagon in winter... An element of memoir clings to this excellent account of folk most of us don't understand... The end of the book hints at redemption, as Le Bas comes to terms with the conflicts of his dual world. But he is too good a writer to make a meal of it

Sara Wheeler, The Spectator

Lyrical and keenly researched

Tim Adams, Observer

[An] enthralling and eye-opening memoir

Caroline Sanderson, Sunday Express

The book is consistently both enjoyable and eye-opening - a real achievement

Robert O'Brien, Tablet

Beautifully written and deeply affecting. While this is a beautiful, important book about Gypsy culture, it's also a moving exploration of what it means to belong

Clover Stroud, Daily Telegraph

Le Bas is a thoughtful writer, observant of nature and with a lovely turn of phrase... by turn lyrical, edgy and wistful... the book is rich with lore and history

Kathleen Jamie, New Statesman

A beautiful writer who seems born to tell this fascinating story. It's brilliantly researched, avoiding stereotype and explaining misconceptions, while showing what is vital and special about modern traveller culture

Amy Liptrot

He conjures up soaring, poetic descriptions of his surroundings... But The Stopping Places is more than a travelogue. It is also a colourful dive into gypsy culture, history and language... The Stopping Places is an enjoyable and enlightening account of an overlooked part of British society

The Economist


The Mail on Sunday

A delicate description of a life split between two identities... Le Bas has a cinematic writing style that shifts between images, memory and history. He deftly traces the origins of his people, the language and persecutions as well as modern British hypocrisies... This is a thoroughly enjoyable read that manages a near-perfect balance of the personal and political

Morgan Meaker, Prospect

The book resulting from Le Bas's decision to know this roots better is a remarkable, deeply humane, utterly engaging and elegiac one

James Sharpe, Literary Review

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