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June 15

A River Runs Through It: The Thames and London in contemporary nature writing

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About The Event

Queen Anne Court, Old Royal Naval College
Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS United Kingdom
June 15, 2019
12:40 pm - 1:40 pm
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A River Runs Through It: The Thames and London in contemporary nature writing, with Caroline Crampton and Bob Gilbert


Caroline Crampton’s parents arrived in the UK on a yacht they built themselves and sailed from South Africa, ending their epic journey at St Katharine’s Docks, their first London home. Later, they moved to the Thames estuary where their daughters grew up sailing the unpredictable waters of London’s great river. Her non-fiction debut, The Way to the Sea: The Forgotten Histories of the Thames Estuary, a fluid fusion of memoir, history and psycho-geography offers this rare perspective on London, from the Thames itself – examining how that river has carried people, trade, even effluence, and forged communities.


Nature writer Bob Gilbert came to Docklands’ Poplar, across the water from Greenwich, by happy accident, when his wife became an Anglican priest there. In order to better understand his new inner-city home, he began a census: did the poplars that had given the area its name still exist? Where in its flora could you trace its 19th century Chinatown? Why do so many Londoners rake glass and stone? The award-nominated Ghost Trees: Nature and People in a London Parish, a book inspired by – and championing – the natural history of the inner-city and what we can learn from it, is the moving and thought-provoking result.

‘For most of us, the city is our starting point. If we are to restore any connection with nature at all, it is in the cities that we need to begin.’ Bob Gilbert, Ghost Trees


Caroline Crampton is a writer and editor who contributes regularly to the Guardian, Mail on Sunday, and the New Statesman. 

Bob Gilbert is the author of The Green London Way, as well as Ghost Trees, and has written a column for Ham & High on urban wildlife for the last 20 years. A contributor to TV and radio, he is a long-standing campaigner for inner city conservation and chair of The Garden Classroom, a charity that promotes environmental education in London.

Chaired by Lara Maiklem, whose debut non-fiction book Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames, will be published by Bloomsbury in August


Age: 15+


This event will be held in QA063 (Council Room), Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College. ALL attendees must have a valid ticket. The session will be followed by a book signing.


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