This project began in the mid 1980s, as part of an investigation into cultural regions in the British Isles. It grew out of a widely shared concern over political and cultural centralisation during the last two decades of the twentieth century, and the effects of this on regional cultures. Such issues have taken many forms in political debate, and their prominence has been growing for many years. In this book on the regional novel, we hope to encourage interdisciplinary study of a literary subject that has received very little attention in the relevant academic fields, despite its obvious importance and popularity among so many local readers in Britain and Ireland.
It was originally planned to include county-by-county and city bibliographies of regional fiction in this book, covering all four countries of the British Isles. Work for these was funded by the British Academy, and very large bibliographies resulted. These bore testimony to the extraordinary array of (sometimes forgotten) regional fiction that has been written over the past two centuries. Limitations of space and production costs inhibited the publication of these bibliographies here, and this bibliographical work will now be published as a separate volume. The two books – one scholarly and interpretative, the other bibliographical – should serve as a welcome aid to interdisciplinary study and appreciation of regional fiction in the future.
This book's scholarly chapters have been written by some of the leading literary critics, cultural historians and geographers working today in Ireland and Britain.