Voices of Southwold Fishermen

Robert Jellicoe

SHORELINES is a 304 page hardback book

16 colour plates and 38 black & white illustrations

ISBN 978-0-9954792-7-2


Out of stock. Some copies still available in East Anglian bookshops or online sellers.

Shorelines is a ground-breaking work about Southwold’s longshore fishermen. Written by Robert Jellicoe, who comes from a longstanding Southwold family, it brings a lost way of life into sharp focus using first-hand testimony and original archival material.

Inspired to start collecting in 1976 after attending a series of lectures given by George Ewart Evans, a pioneer of oral history, Jellicoe recognized that a culture of fishing and beach life had disappeared. He began to tape record those who remembered it, gathering an unprecedented insight into a long forgotten way of life and language. Fascinated by what he learnt, Jellicoe went on to research other aspects of beach life.

Shorelines creates a vivid account of both the history and culture of this community. We hear of the Beach Companies, the exploits of the Lifeboat, the annual round of fishing seasons, the experience of ‘big-boating’ from Lowestoft on voyages to the Shetlands and to Cornwall and of surviving the winter months through back-breaking work, poaching and even stealing root crops from the fields.

This is a book of voices, including those imagined by the author himself, speaking from the beach, the sea, the pubs and the depths. Illustrated by P H Emerson’s extraordinary photographs, the paintings of Joseph Southall and local artists and the novels of Neil Bell, the result is a magnificent salvage operation and a fitting tribute to the Southwold fishermen, their own men and a ‘right royal lot’.

'Robert Jellicoe has written a fabulous book - rich and strange - that recovers the lives and voices of an almost-forgotten community, the longshore fishermen of Southwold. Part oral-history, part-ethnography, part-dream vision, Shorelines floats (like its subjects) between forms and forces. At its heart is an urge to honour these men and their families, and to bring forgotten stories to the surface again. Daring, tender and fascinating, this is wonderful work.'

Robert Macfarlane

What a treasury you have gathered here! ...I have enjoyed spending time in that rich and salty air, made particularly spicy and vivid by the voices of the people themselves. That world is something that will never return and you have secured it a place in the memory. Southwold will be grateful to you, above all for the care and grace with which you have looked after these inestimably valuable threads and patches of the past.

Adam Nicolson

'This is an extraordinary piece of oral history that brings a bygone community vividly back to life and deserves to sit on the same bookshelf occupied by Ronald Blythe and George Ewart Evans.'

D.J. Taylor

Robert Jellicoe