This is a book about Epping Forest, the remnants of ancient woodland on the eastern edge of London. It’s about the punks and poets, artists and visionaries, the outlaws and the mad who have found inspiration and solace within these woods. It’s also about how historical rulings such as The Enclosure Act and the Charter of the Forest still impact our landscape.
Will Ashon is the engaging narrator of the woods; he tells us the stories of Jacob Epstein, Ken Campbell, John Clare, Wally Hope and the band Crass amongst others. Though their stories are varied, each man finds that Epping Forest is a space in which they can lose and find and be themselves.
Strange Labyrinth is a story of a confused, contradictory yet creative patch of England.
Will Ashon was born in Leicester in 1969. Having worked as a music journalist, he founded the record label Big Dada Recordings in 1996, which he ran for over fifteen years, signing acts like Roots Manuva, Wiley, Diplo, Kate Tempest and Young Fathers and, in the process, winning the Mercury Music Prize twice. He is also the author of the novels Clear Water and The Heritage. He lives in Walthamstow.
“Strange Labyrinth is a wonderful exploration of the tangled undergrowth of the psyche. Ashon is an anarchic Green Man; a puckish punk of the forests and here he has invented a new genre: Gonzo Romanticism.” – Jon Day.
“From John Clare to Crass, Will Ashon unearths magic in a forest that is more than mere harbour and hide-out for dissidents, poets and outlaws, but which represents an entire narrative strand of an ever-changing England. Here is deep questing into both person and place, masterfully delivered.” – Benjamin Myers.