Bardskull

By Martin Shaw

A powerful fusion of memoir and myth by one of the great modern storytellers.

Autobiography | Poetry
120% funded
384 supporters
Preparing for print

Publication date: February 2023

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The edits are done – you can still pre-order but your name will not appear in the book.
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First Edition Hardback

A first edition hardback (320 pages), decorated endpapers, head and tail bands, ribbon marker, with specially designed bookmark available exclusively from Unbound.

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  • E-book
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Two Skulls

Two first edition hardbacks so you can share Martin’s journey with a fellow traveller.

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  • 2 x E-books
  • 2 x Bookmarks
  • 2 x names listed as a subscriber at the back of the book
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$65  + shipping
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Audiobook

A first edition hardback signed by Martin plus an audiobook of Martin reading the book (unabridged, with musical interludes).

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$70  + shipping
18 pledges

Skull T-shirt

A first edition hardback signed by Martin, plus a limited edition black 100% cotton t-shirt, featuring Martin’s ‘Bardskull’ drawing, available exclusively from Unbound. Available in S, M, L, XL (size to be specified in post check-out email closer to the time of dispatch).
LIMITED TO 50

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$110  + shipping
7 pledges

Bardskull Prints

A first edition hardback signed by Martin plus your choice of one of four signed A4 machine prints – 'Bardskull Man'; 'Become the Tale of Your Name'; 'Seven Swans'; 'Old Kytna'. (Print to be specified in post check-out email closer to the time of dispatch).
LIMITED TO 25 PER PRINT

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  • Ebook
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$190  + shipping
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Bardskull Merch Bundle

A first edition hardback signed by Martin plus limited edition t-shirt, cider tankard, postcards and bookmark.

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  • Ebook
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$200  + shipping
4 pledges

Dartmoor Launch Party

Two first edition hardbacks signed by Martin, plus two tickets to a real life launch featuring readings, music and cider in a Dartmoor venue. Date and address TBC (does not include travel). 
LIMITED TO 30

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  • 2 x Ebooks
  • 2 x Bookmarks
  • 2 x names listed as a subscriber at the back of the book
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$1,875  + shipping
1 pledge

Patron

Your name on a dedicated page at the front of the book, personally thanked by Martin.
ONLY THREE AVAILABLE

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  • 10 x E-books
  • 10 x First Edition Hardbacks, signed by Martin
  • 10 x Bookmarks
  • 1 x Manuscript page
  • 4 x Launch party tickets
  • 1 x Bardskull merch bundle
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Sold out!

$750  + shipping
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Story Divining

Martin will curate a story just for you and tell it. Nothing pre-planned or selected by Google but through the improvisational magic of conversation. You and he talk for a few minutes and he'll locate the fairy tale hidden within the chat. When the moment is right he'll tell it for you. 45 mins to an hour.
ONLY THREE AVAILABLE

PLUS:

  • Ebook
  • Signed First Edition Hardback
  • Bookmark
  • Your name listed as a subscriber at the back of the book

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I defy you to look at a river and not see your fast escaping life.

Bardskull is the record of three journeys made by Martin Shaw, the celebrated storyteller and interpreter of myth, in the year before he turned fifty.

It is unlike anything he has written before. This is not a book about myth or story. It is a sequence of incantations and a series of battles.

For each of the three journeys, he walks alone into a forest in the heart of Dartmoor and waits.

I will sit under the hazel and sing my calling songs and see what comes. I am not gambling for crescendo, climax, coda. I’m just going to keep turning up.

No dreamcatchers, no showy wafts of Tibetan scents. No Green Man figurines. There’s just a middle-aged guy visiting a place, over and over. Shuffling in and out.

What arrives are stories – fragments of myth and folk tale that he has carried within him for decades: the deep myths of Dartmoor itself, tales from distant family members, Arthurian legend, folk tales from India, Persia, Lapland, the Caucasus and Siberia.

But these stories and their tellers don’t arrive as the bearers of solace or easy wisdom. They come to challenge, to undermine, to sow doubt.

There are so few handrails when we really get into the spirit-forest, so few. All the furies just bang into one another.

But gradually, the nighttime pummellings of his dreams and the daytime wrestling with memories and stories resolve themselves. By the end of the book, he has crawled back into deep time when Devon was an ocean floor, when the places we call England, Europe and Ireland were one. He has arrived at a place before and after story.

Underneath every single person in the world is a cave filled with unimaginable wonder.

Bardskull can be read as a fable, as a memoir, as autofiction, as an attempt to undomesticate myth.

It is all those things, but it doesn’t come from nowhere. It takes its place inside a tradition that connects Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell to D.H. Lawrence’s Apocalypse; Ted Hughes’s Moortown Diary to Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns; Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber to Sharon Olds’ Stag’s Leap and Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica to Nick Cave’s Sick Bag Songs.

It is a magnificent, unclassifiable work of the imagination.

Wonder is the world, without compare

Through feral tales and poetic exegesis, Martin Shaw makes you re-see the world.
DAVID KEENAN (author of Monument Maker)

Shaw encourages and illuminates the mythic in our own lives. He is a modern-day bard. MADELINE MILLER (author of The Song of Achilles)

In his hands language works as it is supposed to do and almost never does. His words seep straight out of the hill.   CHARLES FOSTER (author of Being a Human)

Terrifically strange and thrilling. MELISSA HARRISON (author of All Among the Barley)

Shaw is a one off: his work is urgent and necessary PAUL KINGSNORTH (author of The Wake)

A true master. Martin Shaw is one of the very greatest storytellers we have.  
ROBERT BLY (author of Iron John)

His work combines a magnificence of soul with a deft acuity of intellect… I am in awe. 
 JAY GRIFFITHS (author of Wild: An Elemental Journey)

 

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