The digital Walking Home files include two book proposals written by Armitage. These help us to understand how the project evolved.
The first book proposal was sent to Penguin, and included memoir and diverse literary walks. Its working title was Harmonium and other journeys.
The main walk was to follow Gawain’s journey from Camelot to the Green Chapel, as described in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. These legendary locations have been associated with Glastonbury, Somerset, and Lud’s Church on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border respectively). Other walks traced journeys made by poets including John Clare, William Wordsworth, and Ted Hughes.
This first proposal informs our understanding of Walking Home in several ways. There is a suggestion here that a link between past and present can be forged by walking in others’ footsteps, literally and metaphorically. By retracing their walks we can see what they have seen and understand more clearly their ideas and perceptions.
For Armitage, poetry, geography and biography are inseparable. The final journey in the book proposal makes this explicit. Armitage suggests walking the first stage of the Pennine Way, from Derbyshire to his home village of Marsden, West Yorkshire. This journey will cover ground familiar from child- and adulthood – and represented and re-created in Armitage’s poetry. Armitage hopes to share this walk with his father and ends his proposal ‘I mean to end up at home'.