It's raining here in Leicestershire, and also a handful of miles away across the fields in Rutland. And then, staring out of the window at the rain I had my first tangible thought of the day. It's twenty years since I produced my first book. Rutland was going to be given its county status back, and my friend Anthony Unsworth and I decided to celebrate it with the smallest book on the smallest county. We were either sitting in our office overlooking Kensington High Street or sitting round the corner in the Scarsdale Arms in Edwardes Square (probably the latter) and we agreed that I should disappear up the A1 and take photographs. It was a dry summer, and the Rutland soil was parched, but I persevered and after days in the heat and nights in the pub I finally finished. At this time I'd only written advertising copy and excruciating love letters, so we decided to give Faber & Faber some money and use W.G.Hoskins' inimitable introduction from the Shell Guide to Rutland and, from the same rare volume, a piece called 'Time Off In Rutland' which said that Tixover churchyard was a good place for an afternoon doze. It was.
When it was printed we loaded up our cars and went around all the local bookshops flogging them in boxes of 10 that doubled-up as counter displays. This is where we both learnt the vicissitudes of the sharp end of bookselling, but, as far as I know we did sell all the copies one way or another. These were halcyon days, and I'll always be grateful for the break it gave me in being asked to do more books. It makes such a difference when pitching an idea to have something tangible to wave about in meetings. So enormous thanks to Val Horsler at English Heritage and David Campbell at Everyman, both of whom also believed I could write as well as take pictures. The latter and I are currently ensconced in producing another book together, more of which later. And it looks like it's going to stop raining soon.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)
"Open this book with reverence. It is a hymn to England". Clive Aslet
"Enchanting...delightful". The Bookseller "Cheekily named" We Love This Book
The Cigarette Papers
"Unexpectedly pleasing and engrossing...beautifully illustrated". The Bookseller
"Until the happy advent of Peter Ashley's Cross Country it has, ironically, been foreigners who have been best at celebrating Englishness". Christina Hardyment / The Independent
More from Unmitigated England
"Give this book to someone you know- if not everyone you know." Simon Heffer, Country Life. "When it comes to spotting the small but telling details of Englishness, Peter Ashley has no equal." Michael Prodger, Sunday Telegraph