Winchelsea uncovered


On Saturday November 26 Adam Nicolson was in conversation with Alex Preston as part of the Rye Arts Festival. It was an entertaining event which delighted the audience at the Rye Community Centre. Adam writes books on the landscape and history. He is the son of the author Nigel Nicolson and grandson of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Adam is also an award-winning journalist and wrote weekly columns for many years for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.

When asked about the conversation Adam wrote: “Interviewing Alex Preston about his novel Winchelsea, a swashbuckling adventure set on the Sussex coast in the wild times of the mid 18th-century, could not have been more of a delight. The book bristles with such energy and such subtle insight into the nature of human relationships, that any discussion about it inevitably drives itself. The heroine, Goody Brown, a mysteriously attractive and thoughtful pirate-smuggler-girl, who falls in love at the drop of a hat, toys with cross-dressing and a certain gender-indeterminacy, animates the story. It was a violent time and cross-Channel smuggling a violent trade but Preston never balks at engaging with the visceral realities of the marginal lives led by his characters. But as he described to the audience in Rye, bigger themes play through the scenes of battle and kidnap: how to be a woman in a man’s world, how to convey the voices of people not in any way like the novelist whose task it is to embody and inhabit them, how to empathise with the people of Sussex eight or nine generations ago in a world almost unrecognisably different from ours.”

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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