Westcountryman – A Life in Farming, Countryside, Cricket and Cider
£20,00(Includes P&P - UK only)
Anthony Gibson has lived and worked in the West Country all his life. He is best known for the pivotal role that he played as South West Regional Director for the NFU in the two great farming crises of the past 40 years, BSE and the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic.
But he was also a key player in resolving the seminal clashes between farming and conservation on Exmoor and the Somerset Levels and in negotiating environmental management agreements covering vast areas of Dartmoor.
Besides all that, he has found time to campaign for traditional cider and real ale, to champion West Country food and drink, to explore the relationship between great West Country writers and the landscapes that inspired them and to become ‘the voice of Somerset cricket’ for the BBC.
This is the colourful story of a varied and eventful life, in which he has always sought out challenges, revelled in controversy, used his skills as a writer and broadcaster to change things for the better and never shied away from speaking out as a powerful voice on behalf of the region that he loves and the people he has represented. Never was this more valued or important than during those two great farming crises. What it was like to be in the front line, when the future of West Country livestock farming hung in the balance, is brought vividly to life.
‘Westcountryman’ is about Anthony Gibson the man, as well as Anthony Gibson the campaigner. It includes an honest account of what it was like growing up as the son of a famous but erratic father, the writer and broadcaster, Alan Gibson; his years at school and university; the loss of his virginity as a waiter at Hope Cove; and a moving chapter on his relationship with his brother Andrew, who died from cancer shortly before the 2001 FMD crisis broke.
Many of the farmers with whom he worked in the NFU feature in these pages, alongside cricketers, golfers, cider-makers, conservationists, poets and novelists, politicians, farming leaders, as well as, of course, his own family.
Running to 384 pages, abundantly illustrated and beautifully written, this is a book that will appeal to anyone who loves the West Country or wants to understand its story over the past half-century, from the point of view of a man who has been at the very heart of it.
With Magic in my Eyes – West Country Literary Landscapes
£15,00(Includes P&P - UK only)
Nowhere in Britain have memorable words and beautiful places come together to more magical effect than in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset.
In “With Magic in my Eyes”, Anthony Gibson explores the relationship between the region’s authors and the landscapes than inspired them, and how each brings depth, perspective and meaning to the other.
His literary pilgrimage around the region includes all the most famous author and landscape associations: Thomas Hardy and Wessex, Coleridge and the Quantocks, R D Blackmore and Exmoor, Henry Williamson and North Devon and Daphne du Maurier and Cornwall.
He also sheds new light on the lives, works and landscape inspirations of poets and novelists who are less commonly associated with the landscapes of the West Country, including Ted Hughes, DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, and Charles Causley. And he rediscovers, among others, the Victorian polymath Sabine Baring-Gould, the Cornish parson Robert Hawker and the Dorset dialect poet William Barnes.
With walks to bring authors and landscapes to life, atmospheric photographs, literary criticism and a deep feeling for the land, this is a highly original work which will appeal to anyone who loves the West Country and its literature.
The Coloured Counties – Literary Landscapes of the Heart of England
£15,00(Includes P&P - UK only)
Anthony Gibson’s “The Coloured Counties” brings together some of England’s greatest writers and most beautiful countryside to bring a new dimension to both words and landscapes.
Taking its title from A E Housman’s poem, “On Bredon Hill”, the book covers the seven counties of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. The writers featured - all of whom drew a large part of their literary inspiration from the countryside in which they lived and worked - include some of the greatest names in English literature, like Shakespeare, George Eliot and Laurie Lee, as well as lesser known, but still fascinating poets and novelists, such as Edward Thomas, Mary Webb, Bruce Chatwin and Richard Jefferies.
Featuring more than 80 colour photographs, extracts from the writers, recommended walks, even the best pubs to stop at for a drink, the book is an uplifting journey for those who love both literature and the English countryside.
“We have a great cast of writers and some of the most beautiful places in England. Bringing the two together creates a kind of magic”, explains Anthony Gibson.
“Nothing gives meaning and depth to a landscape like reading the words that were inspired by it, and nothing brings those words to life like walking, or even driving, through the writers’ countryside.”
“When Housman wrote of ‘the coloured counties’, he doubtless had in mind the palette of greens, browns, yellows and blues which the English countryside offers to the eye, when seen from Bredon Hill on a fine summer’s day.
“But there is much more to landscape than vegetation or topography. What brings real colour to the scene are the human, historical and, yes, literary associations of the countryside we are looking at. Nowhere is this more true than in the countryside of England, so much has it witnessed in terms of human conflict and endeavour, and so much great writing has it inspired”.
A Celtic Odyssey
£5,00(Includes P&P - UK only)
In May 2008, Anthony Gibson retired from the NFU, after a working lifetime spent grappling with crises like BSE and Foot and Mouth on behalf of the West Country’s farming community, and embarked on a journey to rediscover his Celtic roots. This Celtic Odyssey, as he called it, took him and his camper van, Carmen, from Cape Wrath, in the far north of Scotland, to Asturias in Northern Spain, by way of places like the Isle of Skye, the Giant’s Causeway, the Aran Islands, the Lleyn peninsula, St. David’s, Tintagel, the Scillies, the Lizard, the Crozon peninsula, Ushant and Oviedo.
This lavishly illustrated book is an account of that journey, written as he went along. It relates, with characteristic wit and insight, his experiences in some of the wildest, most remote and evocative places in all of Europe, as he explores the cultural, historic and religious themes that link the Celtic nations, and enjoys the beaches, mountains, islands, campsites, golf courses, pubs and people that he encounters along the way.
Rosey – My Life in Somerset Cricket co-written by Brian Rose and Anthony Gibson
£15,00(Includes P&P - UK only)
Brian Rose, Somerset’s most successful captain, a man who has been at the heart of the county cricket club for the past half-century, has collaborated with award-winning author Anthony Gibson to write his autobiography: Rosey – My Life in Somerset Cricket.
In it, he looks back on that remarkable era in Somerset cricket: the crushing blow of losing two trophies in a weekend at the end of the 1978 season; the thinking behind the decision to declare after just one over in a Benson & Hedges Cup game against Worcestershire in May 1979 and the subsequent furious response of the cricketing authorities; and then redemption, in the shape of Somerset’s first ever trophy wins – the Gillette Cup and the John Player League, this time in a triumphant single weekend – and being made one of Wisden’s five ‘Cricketers of the Year’ for 1979.
Brian Rose captained Somerset from 1978 to 1983, six years in which the club, having won nothing previously, captured the Gillette Cup twice (1979, 1983), the Benson & Hedges Cup twice (1981, 1982) and the Sunday League in 1979. Since that time, Somerset have won only two further trophies – the 2001 C&G trophy, and the 2005 T20 Cup, the latter with Brian Rose as Director of Cricket, a role which he filled until the end of the 2012 season and which included no fewer than seven heart-breaking second places in championship, T20 and one-day cricket.
There are stories aplenty: of Brian Close’s eccentricities, of what went on behind the scenes in the ‘Glory Years’, of his eight-Test England career ended prematurely by eye trouble and of the players he was responsible for recruiting and sometimes parting company with during his years as Cricket Chairman in the 1990s and Director of Cricket from 2005 to 2012, when Somerset came so close to achieving what remains the club’s Holy Grail, winning the County Championship.
With a foreword by Brian’s contemporary Vic Marks, and co-written with the BBC’s Somerset commentator and award-winning cricket author Anthony Gibson. Rosey offers a unique insight into the triumphs and disasters of 50 years of Somerset cricket, from a man who has been at the heart of it all – and, indeed, at the heart of all that is best about Somerset cricket.