Making of Poetry
Adam Nicolson, Read by Roger Davis

Book cover image

Narrated By: Roger Davis

Duration: 12 hours and 14 minutes

What to expect

SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD 2019

Wordsworth and Coleridge as you’ve never seen them before in this new book by Adam Nicolson, brimming with poetry, art and nature writing. Proof that poetry can change the world.

It is the most famous year in English poetry. Out of it came The Ancient Mariner and ‘Kubla Khan’, as well as Coleridge’s unmatched hymns to friendship and fatherhood, Wordsworth’s revolutionary verses in Lyrical Ballads and the greatness of ‘Tintern Abbey’, his paean to the unity of soul and cosmos, love and understanding. 

Bestselling and award-winning writer Adam Nicolson tells the story, almost day by day, of the year in the late 1790s that Coleridge, Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and an ever-shifting cast of friends, dependants and acolytes spent together in the Quantock Hills in Somerset.

To a degree never shown before, The Making of Poetry explores the idea that these poems came from this place, and that only by experiencing the physical circumstances of the year, in all weathers and all seasons, at night and at dawn, in sunlit reverie and moonlit walks, can the genesis of the poetry start to be understood.  

What emerges is a portrait of these great figures as young people, troubled, ambitious, dreaming of a vision of wholeness, knowing they had greatness in them but still in urgent search of the paths towards it. 

The poetry they made was not from settled conclusions but from the adventure on which they were all embarked, seeing what they wrote as a way of stripping away all the dead matter, exfoliating consciousness, penetrating its depths. Poetry for them was not an ornament for civilisation but a challenge to it, a means of remaking the world.

Genre

Biography: literary, Regional geography

Listen to a sample

Dazzling … Before I read this book I was something of a Wordsworth-sceptic. But Nicolson is one of the most persuasive advocates of his genius I have read. The Making of Poetry brings the poetry to life, but also the countryside … It has paid off brilliantly. He is helped along by Tom Hammick’s beautiful illustrations.’ The Times

‘Brilliant … Adam Nicolson has shown us, in this subtle and masterly book, the cost of the making of poetry’ New Statesman

‘The perfect marriage … Poetry and place are perfectly braided together in prose whose biographical mood pays tribute to Richard Holmes and whose topographical fervour evokes Robert Macfarlane.Observer

‘Adam Nicolson takes us deeper into this extraordinary time and place, and these explosive young minds, than ever before in his captivating book … It is intensely moving and thrilling.’ Evening Standard

“Spellbinding … The Making of Poetry is an excitingly new kind of literary book … One of the most imaginative and luminously intelligent books about poetry I have read’ Financial Times

‘Sublime … Nicolson’s prose swoops and sings all over the landscape; his poets’ embeddings in nature and interconnections of thought are richly evoked, and his enjoyment of their journey into understanding is utterly infectious.’ Sunday Times

A fabulous book! Passionate, original, intensely personal, and thrillingly observant … It will have terrific impact. …Completely captivating. It is also truly moving. Above all, he is fascinating on the central relationship between Coleridge and Wordsworth.’ Richard Holmes

‘One of the most beautiful books I’ve seen’ Spectator

‘I started underlining particularly beautiful passages, but soon realised that I would end up underlining virtually the whole book’ Mail on Sunday