‘Rewilding the Novel: Fictionalising Alternative Community Life in the Welsh Countryside’

A Creative & Critical Writing PhD Project

Project Abstract

My Creative-Critical Writing PhD will take the form of a novel set in present-day Wales, addressing the legacy of the hippie migration to west Wales in the 1970s and the possibilities for rural return and low impact living that still exist in 2015. As well as exploring the lifestyles and philosophies of alternative communities, it will enact a broader investigation into the politics of the countryside and rural ways-of-life, the concept of ‘re-wilding’ and the destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitats that we are faced with in Britain today. Though the community on which the novel is based is fictional, its realisation is inspired by a number of local ecological, low-impact projects including The Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth, Tipi Valley in Llandeilo and the LAMMAS eco-village in north Pembrokeshire.  This research follows a recent revival of interest in what Jez Danks called the ‘hippie invasion’ to west Wales in the 1970s, when many city-dwellers from the south-east migrated to Wales in search of a better life based on the principles of self-sustainability, ‘small-scale’ economics and respect for nature. From a literary-critical point of view, this novel partakes in the ‘new nature writing’ phenomenon (coinage by Granta Magazine) which already boasts a formidable canon of writing by authors such as Robert Macfarlane, Alice Oswald and Roger Deakin.

Further Reading:

Primary Literature

Ansell, Neil. Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2011.

Burrow, George Henry. Wild Wales. London, New York: Dent Dutton, 1906.

Cobbett, William. Cottage Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009 (orig. 1821).

Condry, William. The Natural History of Wales. UK: Godfrey Cave Associates Ltd, 1990.

Deakin, Roger. Notes from Walnut Tree Farm. London, New York: Penguin Books, 2008.

Deakin, Roger. Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees. London, New York: Penguin, 2008.

Firbank, Thomas. I Bought a Mountain. UK: New English Library Ltd, 1981.

Jamie, Kathleen. Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World. London: Sort Of Books, 2012.

Macfarlane, Robert. The Wild Places. London: Granta Books, 2008.

Marsden, Philip. Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place. London: Granta, 2014.

Oswald, Alice. Woods etc. London: Faber and Faber, 2005.

Thomas, Edward. The South Country. London: Hutchinson Radius, 1906.

Thomas, R.S. Autobiographies. London: Orion, 1997.

Schumacher, Ernst F. Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. London: Vintage, 1993.

Seymour, John. The Fat of the Land. Newport: Carningli Books, 2008.

Yates, Chris. Nightwalk: A Journey to the Heart of Nature. London: Collins, 2012.

Wigens, Anthony. The Clandestine Farm, 1981, Granada, London


Secondary Literature

Marwick, Arthur. The Penguin Social History of Britain: British Society Since 1945. London: Penguin, 1996.

McKay, George. Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance Since the Sixties. London & New York: Verso, 1996.

Miles, Barry. In the Sixties. London: Pimlico, 2003.

Milbourne, Paul ed., Revealing Rural ‘Others’: Representation, Power and Identity in the British Countryside. Rural Studies Series, London and Washington: Pinter, 1997.

Newby, Howard. Green and Pleasant Land? London: Hutchinson, 1979.

Monbiot, George. Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life. London: Penguin, 2014.

Coupe, Laurence, ed. The Green Studies Reader: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism. London: Routledge, 2000.

Garrard, Greg, Ecocriticism. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Glotfelty, Cheryll; Harold Fromm ed., The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens and London: University of Georgia, 1996.

Kroeber, Karl. Ecological Literary Criticism: Romantic Imagining and the Biology of Mind. New York: Columbia UP, 1994.

McKusick, James C.  Green Writing: Romanticism and Ecology. New York: St. Martin’s, 2000.

Meeker, Joseph W. The Comedy of Survival: Studies in Literary Ecology. New York: Scribner’s, 1972.

Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. London: Chatto and Windus, 1973.

Cowley, Jason ed. The New Nature Writing. Granta: The Magazine of New Writing, Issue 102, 2008.


Exhibition Catalogues

  • Towards the West, A Varied Crowd: Stories and Images from those who travelled West in the 70s. Not just a hippy invasion! The goats! The muck! The heartbreak! Based on the popular Ceredigion Museum exhibition curated by Jez Danks. Printed in Wales, Ceredigion Museum, 2015, by Cambrian Printers.
  • Voices from a Disused Quarry: An Oral History of The Centre for Alternative Technology, Alan Shepherd. Cat Publications: Machynlleth, 2015.

If you are interested in this project, you may be interested in consulting the following resources or visiting some of west Wales’s most established sustainable community projects:

Places of Interest:

  • The LAMMAS Eco-Village Project, Lammas, Y Swyddfa, Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, Whitland, Pembs, SA34 0YD
  • The Centre for Alternative Technology, Llwyngwern Quarry, Pantperthog, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9AZ.
  • Tipi Valley, Cwmdu, Talley, Llandeilo, SA19 7EE


CAT Oral History Project at The National Library of Wales, curated by Alan Shepherd

Digital Archive at The National Library of Wales

Website Resources

Review of Into the West, an exhibition about the migration of city-dwellers to the west of Wales in the 1970s. Exhibition curated and organised by Jez Danks, see http://www.walesartsreview.org/into-the-west-ceredigion-museum-aberystwyth/




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