We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Wish You Were Here: England on Sea

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781444714616

Price: £9.99

ON SALE: 8th July 2010

Genre: Lifestyle, Sport & Leisure / Travel & Holiday

Select a format:


Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

The seaside, like football and the railways, is a distinctly English and largely nineteenth century invention. At the Festival of Britain in 1951, a replica of a seafront represented hope and modernity – once the preserve of the sickly elite, the seaside had become one of the great English egalitarian institutions. But when the advent of cheap flights allowed us to go and see how the rest of the world did it – with better weather and sandier beaches – our boarding houses and bandstands slowly rotted away. As the economy forced a reassessment of our holidaying habits, resorts from Morecambe to Bournemouth enjoyed a renaissance. Capitalising on the uniquely English combination of irony and pride, the English Riviera has been reborn. In many ways, our national character has been defined by our relationship with the seaside – and in tracing its development, we can see how our ideas about health, welath and happiness evolved. Our aspirations and snobbery, our attitudes to sex, our keen sense of fair play, our chequered relationship with national pride and our ability to laugh at ourselves have all been played out against a backdrop of stormy skies, pebbly beaches and sticks of rock. The seaside is the place we go to get better, to let our hair down, to downsize, to retire, to take drugs and to hide. Ranging from Agatha Christie to the Prince Regent via Billy Butlin and Brighton Rock, Travis Elborough explores how a coastline peppered with quasi-Oriental piers makes us quintessentially English. Erudite, charming and surprising, Wish You Were Here is a gloriously unorthodox social history of a nation of islanders.


a charming study of our national beachside frolics
Elborough proves an erudite and entertaining guide, combining the keen eye of a social historian with the lapidary prose of a fine journalist.
<i>Financial Times</i>
Reassuring air of cultural authority... impressive depth of perspective... admirably persuasive
<i>Independent on Sunday</i>
Elborough has the passion of a true enthusiast... but he's also an indefatigable researcher, who has somehow seen a clear path through the vast amount of material to write a book that reads easily and well but also wholly coherently. Richly enjoyable.
<i>Mail on Sunday</i>
Technically, Travis Elborough is a cultural historian, although that seems too pompous a phrase for such an amusing and sprite-like writer... Here, he chronicles our love (or otherwise) of our seaside, and his elliptical approach, his wit, and the exuberance of his prose marks this book out from a hundred others on the same subject... timely, bittersweet beach reading.
Elborough's overview of our lasting love of fish and chips, Brighton rock and paddling is the perfect beach book.
<i>Marie Claire</i>
Lovingly researched
On THE BUS WE LOVED: 'A charming account of the capital's enduring affair with its favourite piece of transport.'
<i>Daily Mail</i>
An undiluted delight - witty and whimsical
<i>Daily Telegraph</i>
'Travis's book sparkles like the sun on a breaking wave...The author has confirmed his ability to find a quirky piece of social history and make it as appealing as a seaside ice-cream on an August day.'
<i>Camden New Journal</i>
Meticulously researched and trenchantly expressed, Wish You Were Here is as bright and breezy as a trip in a pleasure steamer.
<i>Daily Mail</i>
In this brilliant book, Travis Elborough does a wonderful job of analysing the history of our masochistic love affair with the seaside... [Elborough] has done his research thoroughly and writes with enormous wit and feeling. His book punches far above its weight in both style and substance.
<i>Mail on Sunday</i>
For THE LONG PLAYER GOODBYE: 'He's got a happy knack of stuffing sentences with facts, colour and incident'
<i>Scotland on Sunday</i>
'Elborough is a charming, funny and frequently fascinating guide'
<i> Daily Telegraph </i>
Wonderful book... a great thundering roar of nostalgia for the LP record.
Highly entertaining
A pocket-sized production as sleek as the vehicle it elegises.
<i>London Review of Books</i> on THE BUS WE LOVED
Elborough is an English nostalgist in the mode of John Betjeman... as a cultural commentator [Elborough] is a terrific companion... Wish You Were Here is quirky, chatty, charming and optimistic - an ideal read for the English beach.
Frances Wilson, <i>Sunday Times</i>
'He chronicles our love (or otherwise) of our seaside, and his elliptical approach, his wit, and the exuberance of his prose marks this book out from a hundred others on the same subject.'
<i>Sunday Telegraph</i>