The Way to Hornsey Rise: a Memoir

Worman, Jeremy. 2021. The Way to Hornsey Rise: a Memoir. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

My memoir explores how a privately educated schoolboy turns from his rural Surrey background to the squats, drugs and hippie scene of 1970s Hornsey Rise, London. I focus on how this need for a visionary anti-capitalist world was forged through the breakdown of my family; the demise of the hippie vision is the second disillusioning breakdown I investigate. I wanted to discover how my personal journey touched on the cultural upheavals of the time in terms of their social and psychological effects for a significant minority of my generation. At the core of this story is my intense childhood and adolescent relationship with my mother and the implications this had for the direction of my life. The Bildungsroman novelistic form, organised in chapters, makes use of, for example, brief switches of voice and time to enable a broader perspective about, and beyond, the sequence of events in the often amusing story. Nonetheless, the narrative is based on verifiable facts essential to the memoir form. My work fills a historical gap about the breakdown of an alternative-society vision before a Thatcherite perspective dominated the cultural landscape. The critical commentary explores Iain Sinclair’s flexible use of the memoir form as part of a larger social, anti-establishment argument. My ecocritical analysis of his work focuses on his obsessional notion of society at an apocalyptical tipping point. This idea mirrors a central theme of my memoir. By deploying some concepts of the American social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin, I show the limitations of Sinclair’s subjective, degenerative and political critique of society. I try to develop in my memoir a narrative form which integrates more effectively political ideas with creative writing. The critical commentary has potential beyond its subsidiary status. In this PhD the combined ecocritical Wordsworthian Bookchinian perspective I am exploring is a development from the base of Sinclair’s Blakean apocalyptical point of view. I hope my future work will make a valuable contribution to ecocritical debate.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Memoir, Sinclair

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 March 2021

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Apr 2021 14:16

Last Modified:

31 Mar 2024 01:28


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