Hugh Lupton: The Ballad of John Clare

The latest addition to my website is Hugh Lupton‘s The Ballad of John Clare. Hugh Lupton is a professional story-teller and, in his only novel, tells the tale of one year (1811-1812) in the life of nature poet John Clare. Clare came from a poor agricultural labouring background and we see him doing a variety of agricultural labouring jobs to earn a living. As well as following his messy love life, his alcoholism and his early interest in and attempts at poetry (he buys a copy of Paradise Lost), there are two other key plot strands. The first is the enclosure of the common lands, which will dramatically affect the poor farmers and farm labourers and we see signs of it in this book. The second concerns John’s friend Wisdom Boswell, a gypsy, who is caught poaching and given a cruel punishment. John sticks by him and what happens will be a key part of this book. Lupton clearly shares John’s love of nature and the countryside, which will later inform his poetry and this will also play a key role. in this book. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book, both in its descriptions and the tales it tells.

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