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Walking Home: authority & authenticity

SA_Walking Home/1
In 2010 Simon Armitage spent 19 days walking the 256 mile Pennine Way as a 'modern troubadour'. This online resource presents archive material relating to the walk and creation of Walking Home, held by Special Collections.
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Simon Armitage describes writing 'Walking Home'
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SA_Walking Home archive materials
A summary of the Walking Home archive materials
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Armitage Harmonium proposa
Details of book proposal 1
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Armitage Walking Home Proposal doc
Details of book proposal 2
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SA_Walking Home Red Notebook
introduction to the red notebook
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Walking Home SA/8
prose diary entry for day 0
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Walking Home SA/13
prose diary entry for day 1
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SA_Walking Home/126
Prose diary entry for day 15
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SA_Walking Away/162
red notebook poems introduction
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SA_Walking Home/18
first draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass'
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SA_Walking Home/31
second draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass'
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SA_Walking Home first proof/287
second draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass' continued
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SA_Walking Home_74
blank page entry headed 'fell ponies'
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SA_Walking Home/130
Comparison of three types of writing referring to black huts.
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SA_Walking Home/134
Notes on the changing imagery of 'Above Ickornshaw, Black Huts'
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Armitage Notebook Black Huts
Notes on the importance of landscape for the poem
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SA_Walking Home/108
Notes on the importance of poetic influences
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Walking Home SA_162
writing themes listed at the back of the red notebook
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SA_Walking Home/Glossop Audience
introduction to the Walking Home photograps
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SA_Walking Home/slug088
Walking Home photographs as visual narrative
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SA_Walking Home/digital_image/21
Walking Home: poetry as travel guide
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writing themes listed at the back of the red notebook
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Further reading material for Walking Home.
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Many of the ideas and sentences from the red notebook appear in Walking Home unchanged. By considering the notebook against the published book, we can explore ideas of authenticity and authority in relation to writing.

Do we value a handwritten text differently to a printed one and are there implications for how we read that text? Philip Larkin wrote that literary manuscripts have two kinds of value: the magical and the meaningful. The magic of handwritten manuscripts seems to come in part from their proximity to the author, who handled and wrote the pages. This proximity seems to guarantee authenticity.

In contrast, when we buy a travel guide we might value a different kind of text. Here, handwriting might suggest subjectivity rather than objectivity, and we might feel that such a guide lacks authority.

By comparing the red notebook to Walking Home we can identify the effects that printing, publishing and mass-distribution have on a work. They invest it with a degree of authority. Yet one consequence of printing is that each chapter of Walking Home looks the same on the page: the form of the writing is standardised. The proximity of the author to the page, and sense of authenticity seem to be lost.

Although we may experience them differently, the etymological roots of ‘authenticity’ refer back to ‘authority’ in the sense that the authentic or authoritative version is ‘original’, ‘genuine’ or ‘true’.