Friday, July 09, 2010

Top ten literary pubs

Richard Francis writes both fiction and non-fiction. He has published nine novels so far, a book on utopian thought and biographies of Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers and of Samuel Sewall, the only one of the Salem Witch trial judges to admit the whole thing was a miscarriage of justice.

He has two books due out in 2010. The Old Spring is a novel set in a pub and will be published by Tindal Street Press this month. Fruitlands: The Alcott Family, The Englishmen, and Utopia, is non-fiction and gives an account of an eccentric and ill-starred utopian experiment that was set up in Massachusetts in 1843 by Bronson Alcott, the father of the author Louisa May Alcott, who was in fact a child at the community.

Francis named his top ten literary pubs for the Guardian. One novel on the list:
Last Orders by Graham Swift (1996)

We end where we began, with a pilgrimage from London to Canterbury. Actually, the destination is Margate pier, where a group of regulars from the Coach and Horses in Bermondsey is heading with the ashes of their friend Jack Arthur Dodds, who asked to be buried at sea, or at least at the seaside. But the journey takes in Canterbury en route, where the travellers are impressed that the cathedral is 14 centuries old, six more than in Chaucer's day. The Coach is a daft name for a pub "when it aint ever moved", one of its regulars joked at the outset; but by the end of the novel these pilgrims have covered plenty of ground, like so many of their literary predecessors.
Read about another novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue