Deer Island

Neil Ansell


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Little Toller Books
27 February 2024
ISBN: 9781915068330

From the publisher

‘His story is remarkable in the frankness of its telling and the moving complexity of the teller’ The Times

‘Written with real feeling and a dose of dark wisdom.’ TLS

At the beginning of the 1980s, Neil Ansell lived in a series of squats across London, becoming part of a floating community of rough sleepers and volunteers who gave companionship and support to one another. But Britain was changing fast. Margaret Thatcher had just declared ‘there was no such thing as society’, and it was fast becoming a decade that worshipped the individual. Neil’s sense of self begain to disintegrate. He started to lose friends — some died, others disappeared, and he no longer felt safe living in this fragile community. To escape, he hitchhiked to the west coast of Scotland, ending up on Jura (also known as ‘deer island’), where he pieced himself back together in the solace and isolation. 

Deer Island beautifully weaves together Neil Ansell’s tales of the city and the wild, building a powerful meditation on place and belonging.