The Stranger is a lively, witty eye-witness account of Georgian Reading by John Man, a retired schoolmaster and the town's second historian. Man had strong views on everything from politics, religion and the theatre to umbrellas, beer and beggars, and when the book first appeared (anonymously) in 1810 it ruffled not a few local feathers. In an early example of a town trail he proves himself a militant pedestrian, complaining constantly about all manner of obstructions on the footways.
Adam Sowan’s new annotated edition of this long-neglected text includes an introduction outlining the life of John Man, schoolteacher, bargemaster, bibliophile and historian and also contrast two very different Readings separated by 200 years: a prosperous, well-placed market town on the verge of massive expansion and industrialization, and a post-industrial dormitory, shopping mecca and capital of Silicon Valley, UK.
Andy Clarke’s characterful black and white illustrations vividly portray the characters and the setting; design by Rob Banham.