Love of Country by Madeleine Bunting
Few landscapes are as iconic as the islands off the north-western Scottish coast. On the outer edge of the British Isles and facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Hebrides form part of Europe’s boundary. Because of their unique position in the Atlantic archipelago, they have been at the centre of a network of ancient shipping routes which has led to a remarkable history of cultures colliding and merging. Home to a long and rich Gaelic tradition, for centuries their astonishing geography has attracted saints and sinners, and stimulated artists and writers, inspiring awe and dread as well as deep attachment. Over six years, Madeleine Bunting travelled north-west, returning again and again to the Hebrides, exploring their landscapes, histories and magnetic pull. With great sensitivity and perceptiveness, she delves into the meanings of home and belonging, which in these islands have been fraught with tragedy as well as tenacious resistance. The Hebrides hold a remarkable place in the imaginations of Scotland and England. Bunting considers the extent of the islands’ influence beyond their shores, finding that their history of dispossession and migration has been central to the British imperial past. Perhaps more significant still is how their landscapes have been repeatedly used to imagine the British nation. Love of Country shows how their history is a backdrop for contemporary debates about the relationship between our nations, how Britain was created, and what Britain has meant – for good and for ill.
About the author
Madeleine Bunting was for many years a columnist for the Guardian, which she joined in 1990. Born in North Yorkshire, Bunting read History at Cambridge and Politics at Harvard. She is the author of: The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands under German Rule, 1940-45; Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives (both published by HarperCollins); and The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre (published by Granta in 2009) which won the Portico Prize and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize. She left the Guardian in 2013 to concentrate on her writing. She lives in London with her family.
Photo Luke Wintour