Where? Life and Death in the Shropshire Hills – Simon Moreton
In 2017, Simon Moreton’s father fell suddenly ill and died. His death sent the author back to his childhood home in rural Shropshire trying to process his grief by revisiting his family’s time as transplants to the countryside. The story centres around Titterstone Clee Hill, and Caynham, the nearby village in which the author lived as a child.
There are tales of empty mansions, of being bullied; cooking with his Dad, messing around with his brother, exploring forests; being an adult faced with an ill father; history and folklore of the Clee Hills; of high-society scandals, prejudice and fear; industrial decline and automation; haunted cliff faces; working on a radar station; of being a kid, of hospitals, of growing old, of the seasons passing, of his family, of his father and his kindnesses; of how he became whatever it is he was, and how this big hill was a backdrop to so much of it. In a memoir that that combines prose, illustration, photos, archival texts, and more, Where? weaves a gentle story that slips and slides in time and geography, creating connections across geographies, histories, families, times, and circumstance all to answer the question – ‘where are you from? ‘Where? is more than a graphic novel, it is a treatise on grief, on childhood, nature, and belonging. It is a challenge to think differently about what it means to be ‘from’ somewhere, and how the political urgency of early twenty-first century living needs us to be more critical of our stories, reclaiming what is valuable to us from the grip of those who would take our histories and use them for division and exploitation.