Date: Thursday 7 February 2019
Location: Hatchards Piccadilly
Julia Blackburn, winner of the J.R. Ackerley Award and twice-shortlisted for the Orange Prize, has always collected things that hold stories about the very distant past, as she trawls the Suffolk coastline near her home: mammoth bones, two million years old shells, a flint sharpened into a weapon. Julia’s new book, Time Song, explores and celebrates Doggerland, the space that once connected England to Holland.
Home to our ancestors and an astounding range of creatures, Doggerland was submerged by rising sea levels around 5000 BC. In her quest to understand this lost land better, Julia has blended its history with a series of eighteen ‘songs’ and stories about the places and people she meets. She sees the footprints of early humans fossilised in the soft mud of an estuary alongside the scattered pockmarks made by rain that fell 8,000 years ago; the remnants of a Neanderthal meal, turned to stone; and sits beside Tollund Man, who seems ready to wake from a dream, though he has lain in a peat bog since the start of the Iron Age.
At a time of such significant political upheaval in our country, this ancient connection to mainland Europe is one which we must remember to engage with. Julia Blackburn explores the loss of a space that was once so essential to humankind’s very existence through the beauty and profundity of storytelling – it is a reminder to embrace our history, so that we might change our thinking towards the present for the better.
Hatchards are delighted to welcome Julia Blackburn at 6:30pm on Thursday 7 February, the day of Time Song’s launch in the UK. She will be joined by Fiammetta Rococo, culture correspondent for 1843 and The Economist. Tickets for general admission are £9, or, for £30, you can safely reserve a fresh copy of Time Song as well as enjoying your evening at London’s oldest bookshop.