Francis Spufford

Francis Spufford is the author of five highly-praised books of non-fiction, most frequently described by reviewers as either 'bizarre' or 'brilliant', and usually as both.


He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and lives near Cambridge.  He has been longlisted or shortlisted for prizes in science writing, historical writing, political writing, theological writing, and writing 'evoking the spirit of place'. In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


His latest book is his first novel, Golden Hill, which won the Costa First Novel award, the Royal Society of Literature’s prestigious Ondaatje prize, and the Desmond Elliott prize in 2017.

When New York was really new

Saturday, 30 March 16.00-17.00

“How do you imagine your way into a city when nothing is left of it except some gravestones and a ring of iron railings?  Francis Spufford’s award-winning 2016 novel Golden Hill was set in the Manhattan of 1746, a little frontier town whose streets gave way to farmland at around the point where the Brooklyn Bridge on-ramp comes ashore today.  Now the glass towers of the financial district stand there.  As the author explains, to write the book he had to peel back the skyscrapers and unwind two and a half centuries of frantic change.  Join him on the journey back to a time when Broadway was ’the Broad Way’, the tallest buildings were church spires, and New Yorkers were loudly loyal to King George II.  But a time, too, when the modern world was coming to life for the first time: a mirror, far away, in which we can recognise ourselves.”  

Francis Spufford - When New York was really new

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