Iain Sinclair

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Iain Sinclair is a British writer and film maker.

Sinclair was born on June 11, 1943. His education includes studies at Trinity College (Dublin), where he edited Icarus, the Courtauld Institute of Art, and London School of Film Technique (now London Film School).

His early work was mostly poetry, much of it published by his own small press, Albion Village Press. He was (and remains) closely connected with the British avantgarde poetry scene of the 1960s and 1970s – authors such as J.H. Prynne, Douglas Oliver, Peter Ackroyd and Brian Catling are often quoted in his work and even turn up in fictionalized form as characters; later on, Sinclair edited the Paladin Poetry Series and, in 1996, the anthology Conductors of Chaos.

His early books Lud Heat (1975) and Suicide Bridge (1979) were a mixture of essay, fiction and poetry; they were followed by White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings (1987), a novel juxtaposing the tale of a scuzzy band of bookdealers on the hunt for a priceless copy of Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet and the Jack the Ripper murders (here attributed to the physician William Gull).

Sinclair was for some time perhaps best known for the novel Downriver published in 1991, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the 1992 Encore Award. It envisages the UK under the rule of the Widow, a grotesque version of Margaret Thatcher as viewed by her harshest critics, who supposedly establishes a one party state in a fifth term. The volume of essays Lights Out for the Territory gained Sinclair a wider readership by treating the material of his novels in non-fiction form. His essay 'Sorry Meniscus' (1999) effectively trashes the London Millennium Dome.

In 1997, he collaborated with Chris Petit and others to make The Falconer, a 56 minute semi-fictional 'documentary' film about the British underground filmmaker Peter Whitehead. It also features Stewart Home, Kathy Acker and Howard Marks.

One of his most recent works and part of a series focused around London is the non-fiction London Orbital; the hard cover edition was published in 2002, along with a documentary film of the same name and subject. It describes a series of trips he took tracing the M25, London's outer-ring motorway, on foot. Sinclair followed this with Edge of the Orison, a psychogeographical reconstruction of the poet John Clare's walk from Dr Matthew Allen's private lunatic asylum, at Fairmead House, High Beach, in the centre of Epping Forest in Essex to his home in Helpston, near Peterborough. Sinclair also writes about Claybury Asylum, another psychiatric hospital in Essex, in Rodinsky's Room, a collaboration with the artist Rachel Lichtenstein.

Much of Sinclair's recent work consists of an ambitious and elaborate literary recuperation of the so-called occultist psychogeography of London. Other who have worked on similar material include London based psychogeographers such as Stewart Home and the London Psychogeographical Association.

In an interview with This Week in Science, William Gibson said that Sinclair was his favourite author.[1]

Iain Sinclair lives in Haggerston.

Written works

  • Back Garden Poems', poetry, 1970
  • The Kodak Mantra Diaries: Allen Ginsberg in London, documentary, 1971
  • Muscat's Wurm, poetry, 1972
  • The Birth Rug, poetry, 1973
  • Lud Heat, poetry, 1975
  • Suicide Bridge, poetry, 1979
  • Flesh Eggs and Scalp Metal: Selected Poems 1970-1987, poetry, 1987
  • White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, fiction, 1987 (originally a limited edition from Goldmark but reprinted by Paladin)
  • Downriver, novel, 1991
  • Jack Elam's Other Eye, poetry
  • Radon Daughters, novel, 1994
  • The Ebbing of the Kraft, poetry, 1997
  • Lights out for the Territory, documentary, 1997
  • Slow Chocolate Autopsy, fiction, 1997
  • Crash, essay, 1999
  • Liquid City, non-fiction, 1999 (with Marc Atkins)
  • Rodinsky's Room, non-fiction, 1999 (with Rachel Lichtenstein)
  • Sorry Meniscus, essay, 1999
  • Landor's Tower, novel, 2001
  • London Orbital, non-fiction, 2002 (paperback edition 2003)
  • White Goods, poems, essays, fictions, 2002
  • Dining on Stones, novel, 2004
  • Edge of the Orison: In the Traces of John Clare's 'Journey Out Of Essex', non-fiction, 2005
  1. ^ Gibson, William. Interview. This Week in Science. 2004-02-03. (MP3 recording)
  • Granta: Iain Sinclair
  • Iain Sinclair at the Internet Movie Database
  • Complete review page
  • Literary Encyclopedia page on Iain Sinclair
  • The Argotist Online interview
  • Londonist interview
  • 3:AM interview
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