The two hills are so small that were they to be found in the Lake District or the Brecon Beacons they would probably not even have a name. But, rising from the flat plain of South Oxfordshire and crowned by their distinctive stands of beech, the Wittenham Clumps are a well-known and well-loved local landmark.
Walking here over the years, the thought often occurred that I knew almost nothing of all that there is to be seen of interest and intrigue, of beauty and strangeness, of history and human activity, from these two small hills that Paul Nash described, a century ago, as ‘the pyramids of my small world.’ Eventually, curiosity slipped gradually into research into the stories and the secrets that this landscape has to tell. The result is this collection of essays on the world from the Wittenham Clumps. I hope it may add to the interest and enjoyment of all who delight in the stories that the landscapes of our country have to offer.
Peter Adamson, September, 2020
For details, see list of chapters.
“Politicians of both left and right continue to march behind the banners of meritocracy and equality of opportunity as if this were all that is needed to achieve a fair society. But rewarding people for their merit is creating a new kind of largely hereditary class system in which equality of opportunity is likely to lead to greater inequality of outcomes. In the long run, meritocracy will lead not to more social mobility but to less.”
Long Read: The Merit Trap. New Internationalist, September , 2018
On Poetry (2016)
On changing attitudes towards the First World War in the poetry of 1914-18.
On why so few read contemporary poetry (three essays )
On international development
On the progress against poverty achieved in the last 40 years
(for the 40th anniversary issue of the New Internationalist.)
On Adam Fifield’s 2015 biography of Jim Grant.
On measuring progress by what happens to the poorest.
On what is still the world’s most neglected tragedy.
On poverty in rich countries