On Your Marks

I’m delighted to announce the publication today of On Your Marks, an anthology of writings about sport that I have edited for Pan Macmillan’s elegant Collector’s Library series.

This collection was my major lockdown project, as I was able to work on it in those months when libraries and archives were closed.

My brief was to bring together a collection of writings about sport by significant authors, and to curate a collection that celebrated sport while also telling something of its history. I was also keen to draw on more critical visions of sport: as I say in the Introduction, sport is ‘not all fun and togetherness’, and the collection includes explorations of violence, loss, and animal cruelty.

The biggest joy in editing the collection was in exploring so many different authors and genres. Shakespeare starts it all off, of course, with the wrestling scene in As You Like It. The poets in the collection include John Betjeman, A E Housman, Francis Thompson, and Charles Sorley, and they are joined by such novelists as Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Winfred Holtby, and Lewis Carroll. Mix in essays by William Hazlitt and George Orwell, and travel writing from Daniel Defoe and George Head, and political satire from Robert Blatchford, and you have an idea of what the book covers.

The book joins other titles on walking, food, home, and solitude in Pan Macmillan’s Collector’s Library. I’m delighted with my contribution which puts literary explorations of sport into this eclectic series.

The author, Martin Polley, holding a copy of the book On Your Marks.

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