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Iain Sinclair Biography

(1943– ), Back Garden Poems, The Penances, Fluxions, Significant Wreckage, Lud Heat, Hawksmoor

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland

British poet and novelist, born in Cardiff, educated at the London School of Film Technique and at Trinity College, Dublin. From the late 1960s onward he lived in London, the topography, history, and legends of which inform much of his writing. Since 1970 his work has been published chiefly by various British small presses; collections include Back Garden Poems (1970), The Penances (1977), Fluxions (1980), and Significant Wreckage (1988). Lud Heat (1975) gained him considerable notice for its powerful interaction of factual and imaginative elements; the lengthy prose section entitled ‘Nicholas Hawksmoor, His Churches’ has been acknowledged by Peter Ackroyd as a significant influence in the conception of Hawksmoor (1985). Flesh Eggs and Scalp Metal (1989) is a selected edition of Sinclair's poetry from 1970 to 1987, much of which is concerned with his intuitions of sinister and corrupt forces active beneath the surfaces of modern culture. White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings (1987) won him acclaim as a novelist for its compellingly phantasmagoric narrative. The panoramically episodic structure of Downriver; Or, The Vessels of Wrath (1991) sustains his disquieting vision of London's docklands. The complex, intricate Radon Daughters (1994) also makes use of a shadowy East End. A comic epic of mysticism and degeneracy, the novel concerns an attempt to retrieve a lost sequel to William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland, and features characters from Downriver. Sinclair's description of his texts as ‘baroque realism’ suits his inventive manipulation of language and form. His other works include The Kodak Mantra Diaries (1971), an account of Allen Ginsberg's visit to Britain in 1967, and Lights Out for the Territory (1995), a celebration of London.

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