We British

Andrew Marr

This is the story of Britain told from inside. Hundreds of thousands of Britons over many centuries have left traces of what it was like to be them – letters, drawings, text messages, emails and social network exhibitionism. But unlike texts, emails or television, poetry allows people from distant times to talk directly to us, with nobody else getting in the way: a mediaeval ploughman, a Tudor drunk or a jilted Georgian woman can look us in the eyes.

What follows, then, is not a history of Britain in verse, but an epic story of what it was to be “British” – which means Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Northumbrian, Mercian as well as English.

Combining some of the greatest of our poetry, including poems far too little-known, with explanations and brief historical essays, WE BRITISH amounts to a surprising, uplifting journey towards a new way of thinking about who we have been and who we are.

Reviews of We British

  • ‘Andrew Marr’s triumphant We British: The Poetry of a People is not just an anthology but a history of Great Britain seen through the lens of poetry. It begins in the year 657 with the Northumbrian poet Caedmon, and takes us up to the present day. This book is a labour of love, written from the heart, but also discerning and well-judged. Every school kid in the country should be given a free copy of this book’ PAULA BYRNE

    ‘This is the story of Britain told through the country’s verse. Chatty, personable and unafraid of the canon’ New Statesman

    ‘Impressive, brilliantly exploring the nation’s fascinating poetic landscape. Showcasing a diverse range of great English poetry, from Anglo-Saxon times to the present, he allows our past to speak for itself, creating a new national epic out of the great tradition of verse’ Cambridge News

    ‘A big, brave project’ Sunday Times