Author(s): Travis Elborough
"A fascinating, informative, revelatory book" (William Boyd, Guardian). Parks are such a familiar part of everyday life. You might be forgiven for thinking they have always been there - and that they always will. In fact, the roots of even the most humble neighbourhood park lie in age-old battles over land and liberty. From their medieval life as private royal hunting grounds to their modern incarnation as public spaces teeming with activity, theirs is a story of land-grabbing monarchs and Restoration fops, great Victorian industrialists, punks and model-boaters - and somewhere among it all, the common man trying to enjoy his single day of rest. It's a story best told by way of the Epic of Gilgamesh and Gary Numan LPs, with trips into the lives of celebrated engineers and artists, and the occasional hop across the Atlantic and the Channel. Along the way, parks have proved themselves to be shape-shifters, transforming according to their public's need - they've been converted into wartime farms; by night, they've provided some with the perfect location for illicit rendezvous. But right now, in an era of cuts, British parks are under threat.
As such, Travis Elborough's joyful and loving portrait is a timely celebration of a small wonder that we may on occasion take for granted. It will have your next trip to the park brimming with history, anecdote and new meaning.
"This is a fascinating, informative, revelatory book ... The vast array of knowledge that Elborough disperses in this book will make you look at parks differently ... Parks seem an immutable, strangely paradisiacal element of our fraught and complicated urban lives, but the fact that we actually have them, as Elborough demonstrates in this wonderful book is something to be marvelled at." -- William Boyd Guardian "Travis Elborough is becoming a latter-day Alan Bennett. Let loose in an array of reference libraries, he summons many a curious fact...from the shelves, which makes for a rich narrative... Alluring detail fills every page." -- Christopher Hawtree Spectator "Amiable new history of the public park... Turns up lots of interesting, joyful stuff... A Walk in the Park is an enjoyable stroll." -- Rachel Cooke Observer "His writing combines subtle drollery with a fantastical, Monty Python-ish strain... We can count this captivating book among the boons they [parks] have granted us." -- Andrew Martin Financial Times "Charming blend of the patriotic, popular and whimsical... Beautifully written." -- James McConnachie Sunday Times "Breezy but fact-filled prose... A worthy paean to the importance of parks to British life. His book is impassioned, informative." -- Daisy Dunn The Times "Quirky and delightful." -- Rachel Cooke Observer "Travis is a joyful cultural celebrant offering tantalizing nuggets of social history." -- Justine Crow Families South East "Quirky, lively history, full of unexpected detail." Simple Things "Amiable new history of the public park... He turns up lots of interesting, joyful stuff along the way. He's particularly good on our forebears' taste for the ersatz... A Walk in the Park is an enjoyable stroll." -- Rachel Cooke Guardian "Fast-paced and richly peopled... Ebullient and enamored of his heroes is Elborough." -- Gillian Darley Literary Review "Highly enjoyable." Sunday Times "Elborough's quietly effervescent style manages to transform the reader from being someone with a passing interest in whatever topic he happens to be writing about into a fully-fledged Routemaster/LP/London loon." Travel Guide "Elborough writes in an aptly meandering style with an appetite for the eccentric marginalia of history" -- Ben Felsenburg Mail on Sunday "[It is] quirky and original." Times Literary Supplement "[A Walk in the Park is] wittily written and wide-ranging." French Property News, Book of the Year
Travis Elborough is the author of four acclaimed books, The Bus We Loved, a history of the Routemaster bus; The Long Player Goodbye, a hymn to vinyl records; Wish You Were Here, a history of the British beside the seaside; and London Bridge in America, which tells the transatlantic story of the sale of the world's largest antique. Travis regularly appears on Radio 4 and writes for the Guardian.