Mudlarking : The Sunday Times Bestseller

4.18 (2,142 ratings by Goodreads)
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Mudlark (/'mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour

Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.

Moving from the river's tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, which Lara calls the longest archaeological site in England.

As she has discovered, it is often the tiniest objects that tell the greatest stories.

'Enchanting' Sunday Times

'Driven by curiosity, freighted with mystery and tempered by chance, wonders gleam from every page' Melissa Harrison

'Brilliant. No one has looked at these odd corners since Sherlock Holmes' Sunday Telegraph

'The very best books that deal with the past are love letters to their subject, and the very best of those are about subjects that love their authors in return. Such books are very rare, but this is one' Ian Mortimer

'Fascinating. There is nothing that Maiklem does not know about the history of the river or the thingyness of things' Guardian

'A treasure. One of the best books I've read in years' Tracy Borman
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 35mm | 636g
  • Bloomsbury Circus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1408889218
  • 9781408889213
  • 79,968

Review quote

Enchanting. It made even a capsized cynic like me feel more sentimental about the Thames. In fact, I am quite tempted to join Maiklem on the riverbed looking for treasure * Sunday Times * Mudlarks are river scavengers, but Lara Maiklem is more like a time traveller. Her prose has none of the self-conscious sensibility that defines contemporary nature writing; her thoughtful sentences read as though she were talking to herself. There is a great deal to learn from these pages, not least the insight that finding lost things is the best way of losing yourself. It is, above all, her wisdom that makes Lara Maiklem such restful company * Guardian * This is a quirky and delightful read, wonderfully evocative of London's gloopy, ghost-haunted river * Daily Mail * Maiklem persists, in this weirdly engaging book, in seeking out a curious beauty. Maiklem's description of the fog is worthy of Dickens or Joseph Conrad. Maiklem pungently evokes the broken bridges, slippery river stairs, causeways, jetties and boatyards. No one has looked at these odd corners since Sherlock Holmes * Sunday Telegraph * Maiklem's storytelling shines. Her imagined histories for her special finds read like waterborne fairy stories, a hard kernel of truth clothed in mythical finery. Reading it, I felt like I was down on the foreshore myself, sifting through the pages for titbits * Daily Telegraph * A lovely, lyrical, gently meandering book, filled with fascinating diversions and detail * Literary Review * Lara Maiklem reveals to us the fascinating and poignant micro-world of London's history; the fragments of life deposited on the tidal shores of the Thames. Mudlarking is a flowing river of human stories; beautiful, wondrous and eternal -- Hallie Rubenhold Maiklem's enthusiasm is infectious, and her reimagining of the lives of those who parted with these items is an illuminated joy * i * Whoever buys it is blessed. I love the fact that [Maiklem] makes herself the centre of this huge, timeless, endless story that reaches from the distant past and flows past all our consciousnesses out to a place far beyond the reach of the estuary. Lara is such a natural writer; every page just tingles with her imagination. It is a love letter to life itself -- Ian Mortimer This book is as great a treasure as any of the fascinating and eclectic finds that the author has unearthed along the Thames over the years. The narrative ebbs and flows like the river itself, revealing London's rich history, its modern day landscape and a wealth of poignant personal reflections. One of the best books I've read in years -- Tracy Borman This is the Thames and London's history as you've never heard it, revealed slowly bit by bit, tide by tide, rinsed out and glittering and fresh. Through Maiklem's delight and garnered knowledge, as well as a respectful curiosity for the owners of these objects, we glimpse centuries of London inhabitants who lost or discarded their possessions * Country Life * Maiklem has an infectious love of linking the present with the past. It is historic detail like this that makes Mudlarking much more than just a lengthy list of discarded bric-a-brac. Lara is a romantic, motivated primarily by the human stories behind the objects. Curiosity may kill the cat, but it is the making of many an author. And Lara has it in spades * Daily Mail * Maiklem augments the Thamesian tally, summoning old Londoners out of silty suspension from a discarded Victoria Cross or a pot-lid. There are other mudlarking books, but this one offers engaging insight into an amphibian ambience of strongly marked characters, semi-secret exploits and outlandish theories. Maiklem is not alone in resorting to the river for salvation as much as salvage * Spectator * A beautifully written memoir of one woman's relationship with the sacred Thames and the ghosts of its past. Lara Maiklem's book on mudlarking is as deep and as rich as the Thames and its treasures. Fascinating -- Stanley Tucci A hybrid of personal memoir, London history and literary cabinet of curiosities * Telegraph * Maiklem's knowledge and skill are evident and unarguable. [She] leaves the door open for the rest of us: with a bit of luck and patience you too, she suggests, could spot something interesting on the foreshore, ask around, take it to a museum and end up owning a little bit of history. What a thrill -- Caught by the River [An] enthralling and evocative history of London and its people -- Book of the Month * Bookseller *
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About Lara Maiklem

Lara Maiklem moved from her family's farm to London in the 1990s and has been mudlarking along the River Thames for fifteen years. She now lives with her family on the Kent coast within easy reach of the river, which she visits as regularly as the tides permit. This is her first book.

Twitter: @LondonMudlark / Instagram: @london.mudlark
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Rating details

2,142 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 40% (852)
4 42% (903)
3 15% (324)
2 2% (53)
1 0% (10)
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