A NEW BOOK BY A LOCAL AUTHOR EXPLORES PORTSMOUTH PICTORIAL AND LITERARY PAST
We’ve been friends with local author Matt Wingett for years and it has been awesome to see, read (and stock in the Strong Island Clothing Co store) his many books that he has written and produced…all of them reflect his love for his city and its heritage. With the launch of his book, Portsmouth A Literary and Pictorial Tour Matt wrote the book on how the city has inspired countless writers, both famous and obscure.
“It’s true to say I’m a bit in love with Portsmouth. Even though I was born here, that hasn’t always been the case. When I was a kid, I thought I longed to get away from it. But after I did and then came back a wiser and older man, one morning I realised just how marvellous the town is. I’d woken up early on an April morning and walked down to the beach at Southsea. There was a very light mist over the Common and the birds were just starting to wake in the trees. It was dark, with a full moon. I got down to the water’s edge and suddenly thought: ‘where else can you get this sort of peace and calm in a major city, right next to the sea?’ Something changed in me. That’s the moment I fell in love with Portsmouth and decided to find out more about it.” – Matt
Something changed in me. That’s the moment I fell in love with Portsmouth and decided to find out more about it…
Each of those authors and many more besides have described Portsmouth and written about adventures here…
Matt has read countless books about Pompey and collected pictures, stories and anecdotes over the years. One of the things that amazed Matt is how many really famous top notch writers are associated with the town. There’s the Pompey Gang of Four for starters: Dickens (born here), Conan Doyle (created Sherlock Holmes in Southsea), Kipling (grew up in misery), H G Wells (ran away). But there are many more writers. George Meredith who lived in the High Street was the Victorian author who discovered Thomas Hardy. Pompey-born Sir Walter Besant wrote 50 novels and founded the Society of Authors. Nevil Shute designed aircraft in Pompey and went on to write the classic A Town Called Alice. Neil Gaiman of American Gods, Coraline, Good Omens and Lucifer fame lived in Portchester and then Southsea. The list goes on and on.
Each of those authors and many more besides have described Portsmouth and written about adventures here. When Matt also looked at all the pictures he had collected and the amazing descriptions, he also realised he had a really great book idea in the making: why not publish some of the pictures and let authors both internationally famous and lesser known describe those scenes through their work?
Portsmouth, A Literary and Pictorial Tour has 111 pictures, 50 in colour, and visits 37 locations around the city, from Portsdown Hill to the Dockyard to Old Portsmouth, Southsea and up the Eastern Road. Writers as diverse as P G Wodehouse, Graham Hurley, Beatrix Potter and even Mahatma Gandhi had something to say about the town. In total, there are over 50 writers in the book, and over 75 works are referenced. At the same time, Matt has added historical events and personal anecdotes, so this really is a personal tour of the island of Portsea and its environs. There are funny moments – such as the description of how a young midshipmen is sent on a wild goose chase in search of a cocked hat, and the shocked descriptions of Portsmouth prostitutes by a clergyman. There is murder, Civil War and a flirtatious landlady – as well as a monkey who became famous on the Common Hard in the 18th Century. The book celebrates the people and stories of Portsmouth, and is rich in images.
The book is available post-free from www.lifeisamazing.com, from Strong Island Clothing Co store in Marmion Road in Southsea, libraries including North End, Cosham, Southsea and Portsmouth Central, Portsmouth Museum and Waterstones. The price for a copy is only £12.50.
Writers as diverse as P G Wodehouse, Graham Hurley, Beatrix Potter and even Mahatma Gandhi had something to say about the town…