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Archie Hill -- A Cage of Shadows



Archie Hill -- A Cage of Shadows

Autobiographical novel. Due May 2017.

Born and raised during the Depression, Archie Hill is something of an enigma. Virtually no information about him exists in public records or online. What little we do know can be gleaned from his disarmingly honest, autobiographical novels. A Cage of Shadows was first published in 1973 to enthusiastic reviews and announced the arrival of a major new writer. It tells of Mr Hill’s brutal Black Country upbringing, frequent beatings, an alcoholic father, run-ins with the law. On leaving home, he encountered further degradation in prisons, asylums and on London’s skid row. But a chance meeting whilst incarcerated during the 1950s changed his life completely. Mr Hill became friendly with Klaus ‘Doc’ Fuchs, atomic spy for Russia, who instilled in him a passion for literature and encourage him to write. Libel action in 1975 meant copies of A Cage of Shadows were pulped, with an edited version being published two years later. This new edition reinstates the original text of a genuine, lost classic comparable to John Healy’s The Grass Arena in both its content and the troubled history of its publication.


ORIGINAL REVIEWS FOR...

‘There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that here is an author who can write not only well but at many times brilliantly, and who can and does put over his feelings and thoughts with a salty incisiveness and lack of self-pity or sentimentality.’
-- Tony Parker (People of the Streets; Studs Terkel, A Life in Words)

‘An excellent book, written with a sharp eye for the small significant details of human relationships, and with a gift for dialogue and for fresh poetic imagery.’
-- New Statesman

‘Literacy has not trained out of Archie Hill the rare and, for an autobiographer, vital gift of projecting himself back into the past. His past, in A Cage of Shadows, is not recollected in tranquillity, but relived with the desperate rage of a frustrated child.’
-- Times Literary Supplement

‘In the bleak misery of the Depression Mr Hill shows how the heroes created by the warlords tackled the obscenities of unemployment and poverty with courage, humour and, at times, reckless bravado. An excellent book written with humility and humanity.’
-- The Times

Born in rural Staffordshire and raised during the Depression, Archie Hill is something of an enigma. Virtually no information about him exists in public records or on online. What little we do know can be gleaned from his disarmingly honest, autobiographical novels: brutal Black Country upbringing, violence, alcoholism, prison, asylums, living rough on London streets and finally redemption through a love of literature. When his first book, A Cage of Shadows, was published in 1973, it was instantly hailed as a classic. BBC Radio 3 commissioned a spoken word serialisation later the same year. Positive reviews in The Times, New Statesman, Time Literary Supplement, New Society and others encouraged further commitment from the BBC leading to the series Archie Hill Comes Home. His many admirers included the British film director Joseph Losey. Buoyed up by this success and with the backing of a major publisher, novels continued to appear throughout the 1970s and into the ’80s, all to widespread critical acclaim. While he continued to work successfully as a freelance writer and broadcaster, Mr Hill was actively involved in various community projects, helping rehabilitate those who had dropped out of society, just as he had done. But after 1984’s An Empty Glass (“The story of an alcoholic”), the books suddenly stopped coming. Perhaps because of an inability to maintain this work rate, a lifelong battle with alcoholism, or for other reasons we shall never know, Mr Hill committed suicide in 1986.

General information: *** pages. Format approx. 7"/175mm wide x 250mm/10" tall.

ISBN 978-1-***

Limited edition of 126 numbered & lettered copies for sale.

Also available as a high quality trade paperback.


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