Literary Programme 2016



Horatio Clare
Sara Taylor

Whiddy Island

Sat 23 July 2016



The ferry leaves Bantry Pier for Whiddy Island at 14.30 sharp. It will leave Whiddy at 16.30 to return to Bantry. A smaller ferry will depart Whiddy at 17.30.

All aboard the ferry to Whiddy Island for this special event where we celebrate Bantry Bay, the sea beyond and the beauty and poetry of West Cork. On this year’s trip to Whiddy we are joined by travel/nature writer Horatio Clare and novelist Sara Taylor.

Acclaimed nature writer Horatio Clare travels the great oceans on cargo ships, witnessing the collision of two temperaments: man and the sea. For millennia, the seaways have carried our goods, cultures and ideas, the terrors of our wars and all the bounties of peace – and they have never been busier than they are today. But though our normality depends on shipping, it is a world which passes largely unconsidered, unseen and unrecorded. These ordinary men (and they are mostly men) live extraordinary lives, subject to pressures we know – families, relationships, dreams and fears – and to dangers and difficulties we can only imagine, from hurricanes and pirates to years of confinement in hazardous, if not hellish, environments.

Horatio Clare joins two container ships, travelling this unreported world in the company of their crews and captains. Together they experience unforgettable journeys: the first, from East to West (Felixstowe to Los Angeles, via Suez); the second northerly passage, from Antwerp to Montreal.

A beautiful and terrifying portrait of the oceans and their human subjects, and a fascinating study of big business afloat, Down to the Sea in Ships is a moving tribute to those who live and work on the great waters, far from land.

‘What a magnificent book this is: vast in range, keen in its passions, brilliant in its style. Clare has written remarkably about “the men who maintain the world”, the ships they sail and the seas they cross. Part-travelogue, part-oral history, it is sharp-eyed and huge-hearted.’ – Robert Macfarlane

Stupendous and extraordinarily exciting...’Times Higher Education

‘Remarkable... Clare has the two essential qualities of a good travel writer: a sharp observing eye and a generous spirit.’Evening Standard

‘An epic and lyrical adventure in which Clare naturally recalls Melville and Conrad, to evoke a way of life that is so entwined with, yet alien to, our own.’Financial Times

Horatio Clare is the bestselling author of two memoirs, Running for the Hills (Somerset Maugham Award) and Truant; the travel book A Single Swallow – which follows the birds' migration from South Africa to the UK – a novella, The Prince's Pen and a children’s book Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot. An award-winning journalist, occasional teacher, former radio producer, sporadic broadcaster and Fellow in creative writing at the University of Liverpool, Horatio writes regularly on nature and travel for the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times and various international publications. His latest book Down to the Sea in Ships won the Standford-Dolman Travel Book of the Year.

The Shore by Sara Taylor. A collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean. The Shore takes the force of hurricanes, and grows so much food that it rots on the vine. The Shore is clumps of evergreens, wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, storm-making, dark magic in the marshes.

Sara Taylor’s debut novel features various generations over the course of 250 years in interconnecting stories, and we observe a sequence of lives lived on the Shore – the small miracles and miseries of a community of outsiders, and the bonds of blood and fate that connect them all. In its audacious interweaving of stories, it recalls David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. Dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, The Shore is a breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished fiction debut by a young writer of astonishing gifts.

Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer Award. Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction

‘A vivid exploration of the struggle for autonomy and the many meanings of what we call home.’Eimear McBride

'[A] remarkable first novel...Taylor is a terrific storyteller with a flawless narrative voice and, as a portrait of the impoverished rural south, this novel is a real achievement... The Shore is a mesmerising, powerful read.’The Times

‘Outstanding… This is a tremendous debut novel featuring writing which is unusually evocative, often hauntingly so. The prospect of more to come from Taylor is exciting.’Independent on Sunday

‘This debut is a testament to an exuberant talent and an original, fearless sensibility.  It’s also enormous fun to read.’The Guardian

‘Taylor is a beautiful writer, exceptionally talented in fact, and brings us lyrically into the hearts of each of her many characters.’Sunday Independent

‘[A] brutal, compelling novel… Sara Taylor is a precocious talent.’Irish Examiner

Sara Taylor is herself a socially anxious product of rural Virginia and the homeschooling movement. She traded her health for a BFA from Randolph College, and her sanity for an MA in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia. Following the MA her supervisor refused to let her leave, so she remains at the UEA to chip away at a double-focus PhD in censorship and fiction. She spends an unprecedented amount of time on delayed trains between Norwich and her husband's house in Reading, and tends to get lost, rained on, and chased by cows with unsettling frequency. The Shore is Sara’s first novel and was published in 2015. Her second novel The Lauras will be published in August 2016.

This event is supported by the Bantry Bay Port Company Limited

Horatio’s photo is by James Bedford