On Living in an Old Country

On Living in an Old Country:The National Past in Contemporary Britain

  • Paperback

The Mary Rose, an Elizabethan warship, is raised from the seabed in an operation which becomes a national obsession. A senior politician wears a duffel coat at the Cenotaph and provokes a national scandal. An elderly lady whose house is scheduled for demolition moves it, piece by piece, to the other side of the country. This remarkable book draws together such apparently disparate events as examples of how, for ordinary people, history lives not as something abstract but as a tangible sense of the past permeating everyday life. On Living in an Old Country has generated a new awareness of the issues surrounding conservation, transforming our understanding of historical experience and its role in contemporary Britain.


  • Patrick Wright is a sensitive, ultra-thoughtful explorer...With a large torch and copious notes he invites the reader to a number of meandering guided tours well off the main footpaths.

    Tom NairnThe Guardian
  • A quite exceptional and richly rewarding book...You won't feel the same about the Heritage Industry after this devastating series of iconoclastic reflections.

    Cohn WardTimes Educational Supplement
  • Wright is a brilliant analyst of cultural meanings and has uncovered ... a central truth about the force of nostalgia in modern England.

    Paul AddisonLondon Review of Books