Canongate to publish Alistair Moffat’s acccount of a walk along the border between England and Scotland

Canongate will publish award-winning Scottish writer Alistair Moffat’s latest book, Between Britain, in hardback and ebook in February 2024. The book will follow his journey along the region where England and Scotland meet, meditating on the conflict and union of their relationship, both through history and in the future.

The border between Scotland and England is rich in history. It has been the site of battles, treaties, castles and crossroads. It is also a place where both countries display their nationalism: Saltires flying in the north, the Cross of St George to the south. But it can also be a lens through which to look at the changing history and identities of these two countries.

Alistair Moffat is a borderer born and bred and the ideal guide on this one-hundred-mile journey. We begin in the Berwick Bounds, just north of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Already the battlelines have been drawn – the town having been grabbed by the English from Scotland in 1482 and never given back. From here we will head west as our tour travels backwards and forwards through history. In all, we will walk through eight centuries before we reach journey’s end at the mouth of the River Sark.

Between Britain is a history book, a travelogue, a personal reminiscence and a gently prodding examination of national identity. But above all it is a celebration of a place and the people who live there.

Alistair Moffat said: ‘Englishness, both as an identity and expressed as nationalism, has been the most powerful political phenomenon in Britain across the last decade and more. Its characteristics arise not only from history, and especially the recent history of the Second World War, but also from popular fiction. From the Cheviot Hills, I could clearly see Miss Marple’s St Mary Mead, the Home Guard drilling in Wilmington on Sea and even as far as Daphne Du Maurier’s Manderley. To the north lies another identity, and both Scottishness and Englishness seemed better defined as I walked between Britain.’.

On acquiring, Simon Thorogood said: ‘Alistair is one of our great chroniclers of the past. He walks us through familiar landscape revealing the forgotten and sometimes surprising history all around us.’

Alistair Moffat was born in Kelso, Scotland in 1950. He is an award-winning writer, historian and Director of Programmes at Scottish Television, former Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and former Rector of the University of St Andrews. He is the founder of Borders Book Festival and Co-Chairman of The Great Tapestry of Scotland, and the author of The Secret History of Here: A Year in the Valley, The Hidden Ways: Scotland’s Forgotten Roads and To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne.


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