Occasionally Asked Questions

Who are you?

I am 75% English, 25% Greek Cypriot, 100% European and 0% European Union. I share 96% of my genetic material with chimpanzees and 60% with bananas. I am descended from the Viking Earls of the Orkney Isles. I live with my English-Punjabi wife and our two children in the west of Ireland, where 85% of the men are descended from eastern Mediterranean farmers.

I’m a writer. I mainly write novels, poetry and essays.

Tell me about your writing

My non-fiction takes deep dives into big questions about how we might live in a world losing its cultural and ecological bearings at a rapid rate.

My fiction is mythological, otherworldly and multilayered, and is aimed at adults with at least one underworld journey under their belts.

My books so far, in publication order, are:

One No, Many Yeses (2003) A global anti-capitalist travelogue.

Real England (2008) A journey through my home country as it changed, for the worse, in the face of economic globalisation.

Kidland, and other poems (2011)  My first poetry collection.

The Wake (2014)  My first novel, set during the Norman Conquest of England and written in its own language. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, won the Gordon Burn Prize and got near some other gongs too.

Beast (2016) My second novel. A man goes searching for truth on a wild moor and finds more than he bargains for.

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist (2017) A collection of non-fiction essays exploring the state of the world as ecosystems, economies and assumptions collapse around us.

Songs from the Blue River (2018) My second poetry collection.

My journalism has appeared in a cacophony of places, including the Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Le Monde Internationale, New Statesman, Big Issue, Adbusters, Emergence, Orion, BBC Wildlife and the London Review of Books.

What is your writing about?

It’s been said that every writer spends their life telling the same story over and over again, in different forms. My story is the link between people and places, and what the ongoing breaking of that link means for our world and for our souls. It is also about the ongoing destruction of the world’s wild beauty, and our fatal severance from the non-human world.

Have you done anything besides write?

In the late 1990s, I was deputy editor of The Ecologist magazine for three years.

In 2004, after working undercover in the occupied tribal territories of West Papua, New Guinea, I co-founded the Free West Papua Campaign, which I helped to run for several years. It campaigns for freedom for the people of West Papua from occupation by both the Indonesian military and extractive multinational corporations. I was made an honorary member of the Lani tribe in Papua for my work there.

In 2009, I co-founded the Dark Mountain Project, a writers’ and artists’ movement designed to question the stories our culture is telling itself in a time of ecological and social unravelling. What began as a self-published pamphlet became a global network of writers, artists and thinkers, publishing books  and running events. I ws a director of Dark Mountain before stepping back in 2017.

In 2018, I founded The Wyrd School, a peripatetic writing academy. We run courses which bring writers, and others, into contact with the non-human world, and help them create living art from the resulting sparks.

Through the Wyrd School I also run a manuscript assessment and mentoring service for writers.

I am also currently a contributing editor at Orion magazine.

Where are you coming from politically?

I have never found a tribe that I would want to be part of. But here are some things I believe.

I believe that the global industrial economy – what William Cobbet called ‘the Thing’, but what we might equally simply call the human empire – is destroying the life support systems of the Earth itself, razing and homogenising the mosaic of human cultures and increasingly using humans as fodder in a techno-industrial machine which may one day supplant us. This is known as ‘progress’. Its cultural arm, individualist liberalism, is meanwhile engaged in stripping all meaning, truth and traditional support structures from our lives, in a headlong plunge towards what looks to be a glorified nihilism disguised as liberation.

In opposition to this, I believe in a healthy suspicion of entrenched power, whether it is entrenched in leaders, states or corporations; decentralisation of economics, politics and culture; connection to land, nature and heritage; an attention to matters of the spirit; heterodox tolerance, freedom of expression and an appreciation of beauty. Hell, a man can dream.

What rude names have you been called?

I’m building a collection. Over the years, I’ve been called an anarchist, reactionary, communist, left-wing oikophile, crazy collapsitarian, woolly liberal, nativist, cave-dweller, Luddite, Romantic, doomer, nihilist, fascist and – my favourite – ‘lower middle-class eco toff.’

I am happy with all of these, and hope to collect more. I would like to be remembered as a writer who meets George Orwell’s description of Charles Dickens: ‘a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.’

Name some of your inspirations

George Orwell, Mohandas Gandhi, G. K. Chesterton, William Cobbett, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Rumi, Gerard Winstanley, Black Elk, Emily Bronte, D. H. Lawrence, Lao Tzu, Subcomandante Marcos, Leo Tolstoy, Hereward the Wake, John Ball, Henry Thoreau, Annie Dillard, Han Shan, Leonard Cohen, John Cleese, Edward Abbey, Emily Dickinson, Bruce Dickinson, Gerald Gardner, Doug Tompkins, E. F. Schumacher, Shunryu Suzuki, Bruno Manser and my children.

Are there any profiles or interviews of you which will tell me more?

This profile of me, written by Daniel Smith, ran in the New York Times magazine in 2014.

This one, by Erica Wagner, was published in the New Statesman in 2016.

Here’s another, by Peter Ross, from the Boston Review in 2017.

And here is a perceptive overview of me and my work, from The Nation.

These things are always strange. They take parts of their subject and look at them through a magnifying glass. They’re not wrong, but they are always partial.

Are you on social media?

Social media is like a giant communal toilet that everyone keeps shitting into and nobody ever takes responsibilty for cleaning. My one concession to it is this low-key Facebook page.

I write an irregular but thrilling email newsletter to my readers, containing news about my writing and upcoming work. You can sign up for that here.

If you would like to support my work and my future writing, I have a Patreon page. J. K. Rowling is hoovering up all the money in publishing and the rest of us need to eat.

How do I contact you?

My contact details are here.


  • campagapebozeman.com

    Other commenters have already covered questions arising fairly comprehensively, so I m afraid I m going to be lowering the level of debate but I need to ask Are you sure that second quote is from D. H. Lawrence?

    • Which quote are you talking about?

      • Hans Luft

        Those repeated comments from different names (that are actually URLs) are spam intended to give some “link authority” to the sites they reference by getting you to publish them here. Asking about D. H. Lawrence is nonsense but doesn’t sound like most spam! Clever-ish.

  • picturewatch.mobi

    Other commenters have already covered questions arising fairly comprehensively, so I m afraid I m going to be lowering the level of debate but I need to ask Are you sure that second quote is from D. H. Lawrence?

  • Resilience Economist

    Having just read ‘Dark ecology’ at https://orionmagazine.org/article/dark-ecology/, I suppose that the question refers to “Retreat to the desert, and fight.” which you used there.

  • Justin Riddle

    Good morning,

    I have just finished your collection of essays, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, and would like to comment on the profound impact it has made on my perspective on my place on this earth. As a child of an atheist household, and one who abhors New Age murkiness, I was most struck by your ruminations on the sacred and holy. Like you, I have also spent my life reaching towards something ineffable, but could not plant these feelings in any of the dominant frameworks. But then here I am, camping among the shadows in Shenandoah National Park, and the sacred reveals itself.
    Reading multiple texts at once often creates its own mental root systems. I happened to be reading Richard Power’s extraordinary new novel The Overstory at the same time as your essays, and the concerns in each seeded the other. In the book, the living world of trees coils around the human characters, so much so that I would argue that the dominant narrative voice of the novel is the mighty redwood itself.
    In your essays, you mentioned that you home school your children. My children are home schooled as well (or unschooled, which is perhaps the first step toward Jeffers’ notion of “unhumanizing our views a little”). I was wondering if you could speak more about your educational philosophy with regards to your own children, as well as Western/Industrial systems of schooling altogether.

    • Hi Justin. Many thanks for the kind comment. Funnily enough, my wife, who is the main educator in our family, has just put together her own website with ideas and thoughts about our approach to homeschooling. You might find it interesting.

  • Frank Mulder

    Dear Paul, thanks for your writings. I just discovered your work because I was asked to write something about the Dutch documentary that is being made about you. A lot of things you write resonate in me.
    An important question I have is if we ever can get empire out of our hearts and minds by ‘leaving’ civilization, by reconnecting to nature alone. Ancient man also fought savage wars. Thinkers like René Girard opened my eyes about the inherent instinct of the human animal to compete and to project evil unto a scapegoat, an enemy. All politics and religions are built on this instinct, he explains, and for him this violence is the basis of everything sacred. I read your essay about the sacred. Yes, we need to go back to the sacred – but at the same time we have to get liberated from it.
    I find this dialectical way of thinking also in Jacques Ellul, who was an anarchist but yet an orthodox christian. I’m currently helping to translate The meaning of the city into Dutch, do you know this book?
    But thanks for your writings, I will try to follow your work.

    • Hello Frank. An interesting question, and I think the answer is pretty clearly ‘no.’ We are all products of our time and society and, as you correctly say, there has rarely if ever been a peaceful human way of life. We are primates, after all. Having said that, of course, we have done better and worse over time. I am not sure that violence is the source of the sacred. I think religious experience is the foundation of religion, not sociological questions. This is why it never dies. but I have never made any claims to have ‘solutions’ to the ancient human dilemma! Quite the opposite. The only solution is to live life well, I suppose, if you can, and try to preserve life.

    • PS: Many thanks for the introduction to Girard, who I’ve not come across but who I see I must read. Ellul I have read, but not the book you mention. All the best,

      • Frank Mulder

        Thanks for your reply. Ellul’s theological oeuvre is often overlooked, but it’s very close to what you write, especially the book I mentioned.
        Girard wrote basically about three ideas he had about violence: mimetic desire, the scapegoat, and the apocalypse. Modern readers often skip the third ‘stage’, because it’s not optimistic enough, and that’s why I like it so much. If you read something make sure this part is included. In Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World he explains all three ‘discoveries’. It’s intellectual dynamite.

  • Hans

    Dear Paul Kingsworth, today I saw the documentary made by Dutch television (VPRO) about your life and living. I was literally moved to tears by your words because it so aptly expresses the way I feel about our relation to nature. I want to thank you for your inspiration.

  • Puud Routsma

    Dear Paul kingsnorth. Thanks for expressing your thoughts about the earth and society in the Tegenlicht documentary. Very enlightening and inspirational!

    I have one question which I do wonder about a lot. What are your thoughts about the foretelling of the current state of humanity and earth as told in the bible?

  • Erik Buys

    Dear Paul Kingsworth,

    Last December I saw your interview for Dutch television program tegenlicht and I was very impressed. I don’t know if you have ever heard of French-American anthropologist and literary critic René Girard (1923-2015)? Many of the things you say resonate with core insights of this ‘immortel’ of the Académie française. There is only one major point where your ways seem to separate.

    I wrote about the similarities and differences between you on the one hand, and René Girard and Slavoj Zizek on the other:


    Anyway, thank you very much for your inspiring insights and spirituality!


    Erik Buys

  • Luigi Enrico Pietra d'Oro

    Loved your article in the Guardian “Paul Kingsnorth: ‘We imagine how it feels to be a character, why can’t we imagine how the land feels?’

    I’d love to send you my 21st century poetic rewrite of Dante’s Inferno, Returno to the Inferno. I think it would resonate with you.

    Send me an email address and I’ll send an e-copy.
    Luigi Enrico Pietra d’Oro

  • Aat Zuiderent

    I was very impressed of the interview with you, which was broadcasted on the Dutch VPRO television. My english is not very good, but I could agree with the most of the things you said. Not only what you said about living in harmony with nature, but also your remarks about how people thought in the past and your remarks about seeing God in nature. I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands and I can imagine you have your ideas about us, but may I for one time you recommend the site JW.org. I think, if you would search it, you would recognize many things. For example, many scholars who have been thinking about the same things as you do. I am an 73 old man and my major reaction on seeing the interview was how wonderful it would be if you and your family would learn to know the wonderful Creator of all things. I will thank you for reading this mail.
    Aat Zuiderent
    PS. A song that is in harmony with your feelings, I think, you can find on JW.org > Publications, >Original Songs, is Inspired by Your Wonders.

  • derek hurton

    I read Real England the year it was published.

    It was a kairos read for me, bringing together strands of thought of which I was already somehow aware, but hadn’t seen brought together in such a powerful, coherent way. They triggered a connection with a controversial local supermarket proposal here in our Cumbrian market town.

    Fast forward a couple of months and I was standing on the pillar box outside the George Hotel, reading from the book’s ‘citizens of nowhere’ passage to the town’s first street protest in living memory, 30 kids on pink spacehoppers and dozens of others, all determined to keep the place special.

    I’ve lost track of how many copies I’ve lent or given away since then. Ten years later I think it is still utterly relevant and a source of hope even in these environmentally dark times.

    Keep writing, keep prompting.

Comment below

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.