The Underground Sea

John BergerEdited by Tom Overton & Edited by Matthew Harle

The Underground Sea by John Berger, Tom Overton, Matthew Harle (Hardback ISBN 9781805302995) book cover

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A succinct, urgent and never-before seen collection of Berger’s writing on mineworkers and miners’ strikes celebrating both his acclaimed writing and deep-rooted politics

The Underground Sea is a succinct, urgent collection of writing from John Berger’s archive. It brings together for the first time his work on mineworkers and the miners’ strikes and has been edited as a set of actions for today. Publication of The Underground Sea marks the 40th Anniversary of the 1984-5 Strike, at a time when people are rediscovering the necessity, power and possibilities of collective action.

Including transcripts and image-essay of his rarely-seen BBC programme, Germinal; interviews and his essay ‘Miners’, it places itself in the heart of a Derbyshire mining village, with reflections on the everyday life of a typical pit community. Berger grapples with the politics of witness as he studies the miners’ labour and the wider community shaped in service to this work. Reflecting on their precarity, he goes back to Zola’s novel for hope that ‘a new world is germinating underneath the ground. And when it arrives, it will crack open the earth.’

“Berger’s commitment to the mining communities was more than emotional, it was visceral”
new Statesman

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”Praise for John Berger: ‘John Berger seems to me peerless”
Susan Sontag

“John Berger has made the world a better place to live in. I do not say this lightly”
Arundhati Roy

“[He] reminds us of what most contemporary writing would have us forget, which is that great writers are distinguished, ultimately, by the quality of their humanity”
Geoff Dyer

“There are a few authors that can change the way you look at the world through their writing and John Berger is one of them”
Jarvis Cocker

John BergerEdited by Tom Overton & Edited by Matthew Harle

John Berger was born in London in 1926. His seminal Ways of Seeing was one of the most influential books on art in the twentieth century. His many books, innovative in form and far-reaching in their historical and political insight, include To the Wedding, King, and the Booker Prize-winning novel, G. He died, aged ninety, in January 2017.

Tom Overton is John Berger’s biographer. He catalogued the Berger archive at the British Library and edited Portraits: John Berger on Artists and Landscapes: John Berger on Art. He lives in Sheffield.

Matthew Harle is a writer and curator. His latest books include Black Arsenal and Mirror Reflecting Darkly. His curating explores the cultural histories of everyday life, most recently in the retrospective People Make Television at Raven Row in 2023.