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  • Published: 6 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781448182442
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

These Silent Mansions

A life in graveyards

An intimate exploration of our abiding fascination with cemeteries and graveyards, from critically acclaimed poet Jean Sprackland

'A refreshingly original meditation... I wish I had written it myself' Literary Review

Graveyards are oases: places of escape, peace and reflection. Liminal sites of commemoration, where the past is close enough to touch. Yet they also reflect their living community - how in our restless, accelerated modern world, we are losing our sense of connection to the dead.

Jean Sprackland - the prize-winning poet and author of Strands - travels back through her life, revisiting her once local graveyards. In seeking out the stories of those who lived and died there, remembered and forgotten, she unearths what has been lost.

  • Published: 6 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781448182442
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

About the author

Jean Sprackland

Jean Sprackland is the author of four previous poetry collections, including Tilt, which won the 2007 Costa Poetry Award. She has also published a book of non-fiction, Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach, which won the 2012 Portico Prize. She lives in London.

Also by Jean Sprackland

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Praise for These Silent Mansions

To opened ground and graven stone Jean Sprackland brings a poet's scrutiny and the archivist's insatiable curiosity. She disinters the humanity buried in the humus; and how, as fungus and algae make the lichen bloom, the living and the dead must share the several geographies of time and memory, identity and story. These Silent Mansions, like silence "beyond silence listened for", rings remarkable and true.

Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking

Part memoir, part nature study and part social history, Sprackland returns in this sensitive and unusual book to the graveyards of the towns and villages where she has lived. [Sprackland] connects us to the forgotten lives of those whose names, like Ebenezer and Chastity, are now eaten by moss and lichen.[and] discovers the tales.[of] collective history.

Frances Wilson, Mail on Sunday

Sprackland has the poet's knack for atmosphere and a magician's ability to conjure up other worlds. She is like a ghostly time traveller. Sprackland is particularly agile, though, at exploring the ways in which a graveyard reflects its community and how, with modern life, we are losing this sense of connection.

Ann Treneman, The Times

Part social history, part personal meditation and wholly enchanting - as attentive to local and moving details as it is to the fact of mortality itself.

Andrew Motion

A deeply pleasurable blend of poetic anthropology. Against the inevitable forces of erasure, this small book serves as an act of defiance.

Claire Allfree, Evening Standard

Cemetery tales, filled with fascinating details and told with a poet's skill. Delightfully morbid. Sprackland roves about history, language, biology, architecture, entomology, iconography and much else in her quest for meaning. [and] the astonishing twist.should justify your reading These Silent Mansions in its entirety.

Anthony Quinn, Guardian

Sprackland gets her bearings from graveyards. She does not really feel that she has touch down somewhere properly unless she has established more than a nodding acquaintance with the dead.in order to discover what part of her older self might have survived.

Michael Glover, Tablet

Shot through with delightful digressions. There is a spare beauty to Sprackland's prose. These Silent Mansions is a strange and mercurial book; hard to pin down, but even harder to forget.

Lucy Scholes

A wide-ranging, unpredictable and refreshingly original meditation on a huge but widely ignored subject: the relationship between the living and the dead. Exhilarating. This is a lovely book: beautifully written, never lapsing into self-conscious 'poet's prose', always a joy to read. I wish I had written it myself.

Nigel Andrew, Literary Review

This gentle journey around England's graveyards is anything but morbid. Jean Sprackland, who is also an award-winning poet, is less interested in death than in the stories that the departed have left behind: the lives and deeds remembered in stone and the way that churchyards help us situate ourselves in time and space. Wise, compassionate and involving.

Stephanie Cross, Lady

Award-winning poet Sprackland takes a wonderfully wistful tour of her favourite cemeteries... A fascinating read.

Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

Each of these stories is told with Sprackland's keen eye for detail... It is beautifully written as I have come to expect with all of her books, she has immensely powerful prose.

Paul Cheney

Thoughtful, wide-ranging, and unusually sparing in personal detail... the memories...are so vivid that they make the places, and the stories they contain, seem very real.

Edward Platt, Times Literary Supplement

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