Of Mud and Flame: A Penda's Fen Sourcebook

Of Mud and Flame: A Penda's Fen Sourcebook


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Exploring Penda's Fen, a 1974 BBC film that achieved mythic status.

In 1974, the BBC broadcast the film Penda's Fen, leaving audiences mystified and spellbound. “Make no mistake. We had a major work of television last night,” The Times declared the next morning. Written by the playwright and classicist David Rudkin, the film follows Stephen, an 18-year-old boy, whose identity, sexuality, and suffocating nationalism unravels through a series of strange visions. After its original broadcast, Penda's Fen vanished into unseen mythic status, with only a single rebroadcast in 1990 sustaining its cult following. With a DVD release by the BFI in 2016, Penda's Fen has now become totemic for those interested in Britain's deep history, folklore, and landscape. Of Mud and Flame brings together writers, artists, and historians to excavate and explore this unique cornerstone of Britain's uncanny archive.

Contributors include
David Rudkin, Sukhdev Sandhu, Roger Luckhurst, Gareth Evan, Adam Scovell, Bethany Whalley, Carl Phelpstead, David Ian Rabey, David Rolinson, Craig Wallace, Daniel O'Donnell Smith, William Fowler, Yvonne Salmon, Andy W. Smith, Carolyne Larrington, John Harle, Timothy J. Jarvis, Tom White, Daniel Eltringham, Joseph Brooker, Gary Budden

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781907222689
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 12/31/2019
Series: Strange Attractor Press
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Matthew Harle works in the BFI Southbank's Television Programming Unit, holds a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London, and has taught English and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck and King's College London.

James Machin is a writer and researcher and coeditor of Faunus, the journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen. He has published work in journals including Textual Practice, and taught at Birkbeck, University of London, and the Royal College of Art.

James David Rudkin (born 29 June 1936) is an English playwright. Following the success of his first play Afore Night Come (1962), Rudkin translated works by Aeschylus, Roger Vitrac, the libretto of Schoenberg's Moses and Aaron, and wrote the book to the Western Theatre Ballet's Sun into Darkness (Sadlers Wells 1963) and the libretto for Gordon Crosse's comic opera, The Grace of Todd. Rudkin's major works for the stage include Ashes (1974), The Sons of Light (written in 1965 though not staged until 1975), The Triumph of Death (1981) and The Saxon Shore (1986). His associations with the RSC also led him to translate the Hippolytus of Euripides for the company in 1978, having translated the author's Hecuba for radio three years previously. He has written for television, including The Stone Dance (1963), Children Playing (1967), House of Character (1968) (staged by the Birmingham Rep as No Title in 1974), Blodwen, Home from Rachel's Marriage (1969), Bypass (1972), Atrocity (1973), the Alan Clarke-directed Penda's Fen (1974), and Artemis 81 (1981); for radio, including No Accounting for Taste (1960), Gear Change (1967), Cries from Casement as His Bones are Brought to Dublin (1973) (also staged by the RSC); and for cinema, including François Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966). He has also written a volume in the British Film Institute's "Film Classics" series, a 2005 study of Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr.

Sukhdev Sandhu is the author of, among other books, London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City, I'll Get My Coat, and Night Haunts. He lives in New york and London, and writes for the London Review of Books, Modern Painters and the TLS. He is the award-winning chiefvfilm critic of the Daily Telegraph and Associate Professor of English literature at New York University.

Roger Luckhurst is a British writer and academic. He is Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature in the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London and was Distinguished Visiting Professor at Columbia University in 2016. He works on Victorian literature, contemporary literature, Gothic and weird fiction, trauma studies, and speculative/science fiction. Luckhurst is notable for his introductions and editorships to the Oxford World's Classics series volumes — Late Victorian Gothic Tales, Dracula, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Portrait of a Lady, H.P. Lovecraft's Classic Horror Tales, King Solomon's Mines, and The Time Machine — and for his books on J. G. Ballard (1997), The Invention of Telepathy (2002), Science Fiction (2005) The Trauma Question (2008), The Mummy's Curse: The True Story of a Dark Fantasy (Oxford University Press, 2012), and Zombies: A Cultural History (Reaktion Press, 2015). He has also written two books for the British Film Institute classic film series on The Shining and Alien. Luckhurst has written pieces for The Guardian and features for the film journal Sight and Sound and wrote and presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary about mummy curses in 2012. He has been an occasional film reviewer and commentator for the radio programmes Front Row and Free Thinking.

Adam Scovell is a writer and filmmaker from The Wirral, currently based in London. He is studying for a PhD in film music and transcendental style at the University of Liverpool and Goldsmiths. He has produced film and art criticism for more than 20 digital and print publications including The Times and The Guardian, runs the Blog North Awards-nominated website Celluloid Wicker Man, and has had film work screened at FACT, The Everyman Playhouse, Hackney Picturehouse and Manchester Art Gallery. In 2015, he worked with Robert Macfarlane on an adaptation of his Sunday Times bestseller, Holloway. At present he is filming a number of projects on super-8 film including a collaboration with Iain Sinclair, and working on a book on folk horror for Auteur Publishing.

Beth Whalley is a researcher and PhD candidate at King's College London.

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