Estuary: out from London to the Sea

Represented by:
Laura Longrigg


Hamish Hamilton

Publication date:

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An immersive, intimate journey into the world of the Thames Estuary and the people who spend their lives there.

The Thames Estuary is one of the world’s great deltas, providing passage in and out of London for millennia. It is silted up with the memories and artefacts of past voyages. It is the habitat for an astonishing range of wildlife. And for the people who live and work on the estuary, it is a way of life unlike any other – one most would not trade for anything, despite its many dangers.

Rachel Lichtenstein has travelled the length and breadth of the estuary many times and in many vessels, from hardy tug boats to stately pleasure cruisers to an inflatable military dinghy. Over many years she has gathered an extraordinary chorus of voices: mudlarkers and fishermen, radio pirates and champion racers, the men who risk their lives out on the water and the women who wait on the shore.

Estuary is a thoughtful and intimate portrait of a profoundly British place. With a clear eye and a sharp ear, Rachel Lichtenstein captures the essence of a community and an environment, examining how each has shaped and continues to shape the other.


'Lichtenstein is a cultural archaeologist, digging up forgotten stories.' Daily Telegraph

‘This fascinating book, awash with poignant, life-affirming tales, intricate detail and striking imagery, documents the history, geography, nature and people that have shaped the ever-changing landscape here [of the Thames Estuary]. And it does this most brilliantly through the eyes of those whose stories bring depth and character to what is often a bleak and desolate place.’ Ben McCormick, Caught by the River

'Lichteinstein's engrossing study brings her into contact with the murky history of these unquiet waters. In this immersive account, she does it evocative justice.' The Lady

 ‘..the Thames Estuary.. is a dream location for a psychogeographical survey, a mode of exploration that fetishes locations where the human and natural worlds uneasily coexist.’ New Statesman
‘(An) electrifying exploration of the estuary… (Rachel’s) own voyages out into the estuarine sea-waters are surprisingly harrowing: running aground on shallow sandbanks in a shrieking gale is an assault on all senses.’ Spectator
‘(Lichtenstein) is well placed to investigate the Thames Estuary, in her hands a quotidian, unambiguous geographical feature – a site for shipping and trade – and an amorphous entity with overlapping definitions and meanings, haunted by history (and perhaps, she hints, by ghosts) and impossible objectively to describe.'  Financial Times
Book of the Month …’it’s clear that Lichtenstein is profoundly fearful of the unforgiving, unpredictable environment in which she has placed herself,  and forced to confront mortality, taken outside her comfort zone and almost entirely reliant on the expertise of others, she produces possibly her finest book.’
Peter Watts, Caught by the River
'The Thames Estuary changes constantly...Writing about it presents a unique challenge...Lichtenstein's outstanding book shows how it should be done.'
Irish Times

‘the Thames Estuary is… a place of subversive cultural energy, home to Dickens’ Magwitch and the band Dr Feelgood.  Through her travels, interviews and researches, Lichtenstein restores its edgy pride and celebrates its muddy beauty.’ Blake Morrison Guardian

Other publications by Rachel Lichtenstein

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