poetry • prose • photography • spoken word • handbound • limited edition • trade

archie hill • a cage of shadows • classic autobiography • reissue of the libellous 1973 text

Archie Hill — A Cage of Shadows
Archie Hill - A Cage of Shadows - Tangerine Press
  • Three editions: paperback; 100 numbered & 26 lettered copies

Born and raised during the Depression, Archie Hill is something of an enigma. Virtually no information about him exists in public records or online. What little we do know can be gleaned from his disarmingly honest, autobiographical novels. A Cage of Shadows was first published in 1973 to enthusiastic reviews and announced the arrival of a major new writer. It tells of Mr Hill’s brutal Black Country upbringing, frequent beatings, an alcoholic father, run-ins with the law. On leaving home, he encountered further degradation in prisons, asylums and on London’s skid row. But a chance meeting whilst incarcerated during the 1950s changed his life completely. Mr Hill became friendly with Klaus ‘Doc’ Fuchs, atomic spy for Russia, who instilled in him a passion for literature and encourage him to write. Libel action in 1975 meant copies of A Cage of Shadows were pulped, with an edited version being published two years later. This new edition reinstates the original text of a genuine, lost classic comparable to John Healy’s The Grass Arena in both its content and the troubled history of its publication.

"Originally published in 1973, and thereafter suffering libel action which helped nudge it towards obscurity, Hill’s autobiography is surely deserving of a place somewhere between D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers and Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London."
— Opus

"In the bleak misery of the Depression Mr Hill shows how the heroes created by the warlords tackled the obscenities of unemployment and poverty with courage, humour and, at times, reckless bravado. An excellent book written with humility and humanity."
The Times (1973)

AVAILABLE IN THREE EDITIONS:

Paperback £12

Price with shipping

Numbered £50

Price with shipping

Lettered/signed/artwork £130

* * * Please remember to choose your postal region from the Paypal drop-down box as per example below * * *

Stacks Image 461

More detailed information here:

First printing

£12 plus shipping

304 pages. Format approx. 6"/150mm wide x 9"/230mm tall. Cover image by the author retrieved from the archives; three b&w examples of Mr Hill's photography included in the book itself; acid-free text paper. ISBN: 978-1-910691-11-3

100 Numbered copies

£50 plus shipping

304 pages. Pinched Crown format, approx. 7”/175mm wide, 10”/250mm tall. Handbound at the Tangerine workshop with cloth-covered acid-free boards, conservation glue and hemp cord; foil embossed front cover artwork; colour title page. High quality reproductions of the author's photojournalism featured in these editions. ISBN: 978-1-910691-10-6

Quarterbound with Fabriano Tiziano 'oatmeal' paper covered boards and cloth spine; 100% recycled, acid-free text paper; Hahnemuhle Lana red endpapers; front cover artwork embossed in black.

Includes a bound in high quality reproduction of an Archie Hill photograph on Mohawk Superfine paper.

26 Lettered/signed copies

£130 plus shipping

Quarter bound with Fabriano Tiziano dark grey paper covered boards and Japanese mid-green silk spine; front cover artwork embossed in gold; 100% recycled, acid-free text paper; photo by Mr Hill is Indigo printed onto Mohawk Superfine paper and forms part of the 3-page ‘stepped’ Fabriano Tiziano front endpapers — the other page colours being green and red; Fabriano Tiziano green endpapers.

Includes high quality reproductions of the only four remaining examples of Archie Hill's photojournalism on Mohawk Superfine paper.

All lettered copies are signed by Robin Hill, to whom the book is dedicated.

SOLD OUT

"A Cage of Shadows deserves to find a new readership and its re-publication is greatly to be welcomed."
Black Country Bugle

"Originally published in 1973, and thereafter suffering libel action which helped nudge it towards obscurity, Hill’s autobiography is surely deserving of a place somewhere between D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers and Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London."
— Opus

ORIGINAL REVIEWS FOR...

"In the bleak misery of the Depression Mr Hill shows how the heroes created by the warlords tackled the obscenities of unemployment and poverty with courage, humour and, at times, reckless bravado. An excellent book written with humility and humanity."
The Times

‘There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that here is an author who can write not only well but at many times brilliantly, and who can and does put over his feelings and thoughts with a salty incisiveness and lack of self-pity or sentimentality.’
— Tony Parker (People of the Streets; Studs Terkel, A Life in Words)

‘An excellent book, written with a sharp eye for the small significant details of human relationships, and with a gift for dialogue and for fresh poetic imagery.’
New Statesman

‘Literacy has not trained out of Archie Hill the rare and, for an autobiographer, vital gift of projecting himself back into the past. His past, in A Cage of Shadows, is not recollected in tranquillity, but relived with the desperate rage of a frustrated child.’
Times Literary Supplement

‘The picture he draws of slum life in the Black Country … is more spine-chilling than any horror story. His poetic descriptions of poaching would charm a gamekeeper. And he has the gift for haunting phrases.’
Sunday Telegraph

Born in rural Staffordshire and raised during the Depression, Archie Hill is something of an enigma. Virtually no information about him exists in public records or online. What little we do know can be gleaned from his disarmingly honest, autobiographical novels: brutal Black Country upbringing, violence, alcoholism, prison, mental hospitals, living rough on London streets and finally redemption through a love of literature. All his books, the majority of which were published by Hutchinson (now part of Penguin Random House), are long out of print. When his first book, A Cage of Shadows, was published in 1973, it was instantly hailed
as a classic. BBC Radio 3 commissioned a spoken word serialisation later the same year. His many admirers included the British film director Joseph Losey. Buoyed up by this success and with the backing of a major publisher, novels continued to appear throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, all to widespread critical acclaim. While he continued to work successfully as a freelance writer and broadcaster, Mr Hill was actively involved in various community projects, helping rehabilitate those who had dropped out of society, just as he had done. But after 1984’s An Empty Glass (“The story of an alcoholic”), the books suddenly
stopped coming. Perhaps because of an inability to maintain this work rate, a lifelong battle with alcoholism, or for other reasons we shall never know, Mr Hill committed suicide in 1986.

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