After London (1911)

After London; or, Wild England. By Richard Jefferies; 1911; Duckworth, London.

First published in 1885, Richard Jefferies’ After London can be seen as one of the most important early examples of “post-apocalyptic fiction”. The story tells of how London becomes a swampland after an unspecified natural disaster delivers England over to the mercy of nature. Divided into two parts, “The Relapse into Barbarism” recounts the fall of civilisation while the second longer section entitled “Wild England” follows Felix Aquila, the male protagonist, as he builds a canoe and explores more of the world around him. As an author, Jefferies was noted for his more everyday depiction of nature and rural life. The son of a Wiltshire farmer, he began his work as a reporter for the North Wiltshire Herald in 1866 and later found success through his articles written for the Pall Mall Gazette. Based on his childhood acquaintances and experiences, he wrote a series of essays called The Gamekeeper at Home (1878), followed by three more collections which were first published in the Pall Mall Gazette and then in book form, including Wild Life in a Southern County and The Amateur Poacher, both appearing in 1879, and Round About a Great Estate in 1880. He also published two children’s books, Wood Magic (1881) and Bevis (1882), both of which feature a young boy named Bevis who can communicate with animals and inanimate parts of nature, such as the stream and wind.

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: California Digital Library
Found via: Observatory Press
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
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Observatory Press Edition

New science-fiction publishers Observatory Press have created a wonderful-looking edition of the book, available as part of their Kickstarter fundraising drive. The original novel by Jefferies is “accompanied by a poetry afterword by Matt Merritt and enclosed in a beautiful cover illustration by George Chislett” (pictured below). Pledge to their Kickstarter before 22nd April to get your copy, amongst other enticing reprints to be had in their first wave of offerings.