Foulness

By David Henningham

A haunting experimental novel set on the Essex coast during the Cold War.

Fiction
42% funded
107 supporters
Funding
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Make Foulness a reality – choose your reward below.
$25  + shipping
72 pledges

First Edition Paperback

A first edition paperback original with silver foil debossed cover.

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  • Your name listed as a subscriber in the back of the book
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$75  + shipping
13 pledges

Handmade Book

A handmade large-format photographic version of the novel. This signed limited edition includes colour and b/w reproductions of photographs by Harpreet Kalsi, and drawings by David Henningham. Cover debossed and die-cut with sand-textured endpapers.

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  • Name listed in the back of the book
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$100  + shipping

Book Club

Five copies of the first edition paperback original with silver foil debossed cover.

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  • Your names (and/or book club name) listed as subscribers in the back of the book
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$175  + shipping
2 pledges

Slipcase Edition

One of 14 unique cloth-covered slipcases, named after a bird species, made using its colouring. (Each chapter of the novel is named after a different species). A handmade large-format photographic version of the novel. This signed limited edition includes colour and b/w reproductions of photographs by Harpreet Kalsi, and drawings by David Henningham. Cover debossed and die-cut with sand-textured endpapers.

PLUS:

  • Printed proof of the paperback book months before the trade release.
  • Name listed in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$175  + shipping

Book Binding & Beer

Join David Henningham for a hands-on binding experience in an East London brewery. Arts and craft beer will collide as you learn to make pamphlets using Gmund Bier papers (recycled hop paper supplied by G.F Smith; probably the best paper merchant in the world).

This 4 hour BEGINNER workshop (with breaks) opens with a pamphleteer session making several different quick booklets, followed by an authentic Japanese book. We'll reveal the history and science behind the form of these beautiful books, which you'll soon be knocking up at home.

LIMITED TO 6.
Covid safe (your 2m workstation will be fully equipped, ventilated, and your triple vaxxed teacher will don a mask in your space)

PLUS:

  • Come away with 4 bindings of your own
  • Signed first edition paperback of the book
  • A pack of 10 colour postcards reproducing bird paintings and pencil drawings by David Henningham
  • Your name listed as a subscriber in the back of the book
  • G.F Smith gift pack
  • Glass of refreshing craft beer
Choose this reward
$375  + shipping

Collector

One of 14 unique cloth-covered slipcases, named after a bird species, made using its colouring. (Each chapter of the novel is named after a different species). A handmade large-format photographic version of the novel. Signed limited edition including colour and b/w reproductions of photographs by Harpreet Kalsi, and drawings by David Henningham. Cover debossed and die-cut with sand-textured endpapers.

PLUS:

  • A signed oil sketch on ingres paper of one of the bird species in the book.
  • Printed proof of the paperback book months before the trade release
  • Name listed in the back of the book
Choose this reward

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The cannons of the British Empire, and the bombs of nuclear colonialism, were refined on Foulness Island. From this Essex shore convicts, and later Atom bombs, were Transported to Australia; devastating Aborigine lands.

Rockets tested over Thames sandbanks were turned on an Abyssinian mountain fortress, deposing Emperor Tewodros II and his son Prince Alemayehu. Foulness is a novel that traces the trajectories from Victorian Imperialism to the Cold War.

It is 1957 and a single Russian jet flies over Foulness Island. The photograph it takes starts a chain reaction, alarming the military and unsettling the idyllic farming community that, bizarrely, endures within its barbed-wire enclosure. The events that unfold rely entirely on the Islanders’ memories, fears and heritage of paranoia. James arrives from Military Intelligence with orders to camouflage this secret installation. But a cache of artefacts, including a Victorian printing press, will soon divert James' attention away from today’s tripwire fears to Foulness' colonial past. Encountering his commanding officer’s prejudices, and uncovering Rev. Leigh’s former Temperance Mission, James witnesses how difficult it is to recount the crimes of the past without re-enacting them. 

Miss Bradshaw, despite being assigned to keep James on track, also becomes drawn into uncovering these hidden layers of Foulness. As a former Naturalist, James is fascinated by the landscape’s stark beauty and the perilous tidal path, known as the Broomway, that skirts Foulness—luring and drowning the unwary. This expanse of sandbanks provides a tabula rasa for munitions tests. Scarred by his experience of WW2, James becomes troubled by the Island heartbeat provided by the thudding of the guns. While the tide of history threatens Britain's standing in the world, he continues to feel the immortal pull of envy and love.

A musical structure underpins this novel. Each of its fourteen sections is announced by a poem describing a bird that nests on the island. The sections themselves are like the movements of a tone poem, evoking the strange, liminal atmosphere of the half-submerged island: It is a book that combines the themes of memory and erasure.

Foulness marks the arrival of an exciting new English novelist whose writing, though often comic, conjures the oppressive ambience of Le Carré, while extending the acute sensitivity to landscape and history of a W.G. Sebald or a Patrick Wright.

“Henningham’s mordant wit and avant-garde flair is part of another poetic tradition stretching back to Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound and the Dada pranksters of Zurich.” – David Collard, The TLS

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