J. S. Loveard is a writer, enrolled on the Literary Practice PhD at the University of Warwick. He lectures and tutors at the Centre for Academic Writing (CAW) at Coventry University.
‘Its original nucleus, the plausible excuse for the town's coming into prosperous existence, lies in the fiction of a chalybeate well, which, indeed, is so far a reality that out of its magical depths have gushed streets, groves, gardens, mansions, shops, and churches, and spread themselves along the banks of the little river Leam’ – Nathaniel Hawthorne Our Old Home (1863)
I am at work on a novel that sets out to recreate the Warwickshire town of Leamington Spa – both as central character and setting.
James Joyce claimed that he wished Ulysses (1922) ‘to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.’ The large repertoire of the modernist artist made this picture of the city possible, but it was a means of picture-making that largely passed the towns of the British Isles by. It was in the cities were where these artists, on the whole, lived and worked or in Joyce’s case remembered (from Trieste, Zurich, Paris). All across the Atlantic Archipelago and beyond, cities were remade in words, mapped through kaleidoscopes of consciousness and montage – the London of Virginia Woolf, the Birmingham of Henry Green, Döblin and Berlin, Llosa and Lima, Rhys and Paris, the Petersburg of Bely, the New York of Dos Passos, and the list could go on.
The vortex touched small town America too, from William Faulkner to William H. Gass, Sherwood Anderson and Jean Toomer, and this novel is an attempt to bring this spirit to Leamington – to create a picture of its present and to uncover the palimpsest of its past whether that’s the medieval farm tilled by Germanic settlers, or the obscure village passed between lord and priory, or the bustling nineteenth century resort, what A. B. Granville in his Spas of England and Principal Sea-Bathing Places (1841) termed the ‘king of the English Spas of the present day,’ appearing out of nowhere, conjured by some Enlightenment slight of hand.
I also write non-fiction. My essay ‘a weakness for past masters’ on Christopher Isherwood and his Modernist forbears was published in 3:AM Magazine.
MA English Literature (Warwick)
BA Philosophy and Literature (Warwick)