Autumn reads: The best new books about Britain

Readers browse books on London's South Bank. Photo: Charlie Read on Unsplash

Get cosy with one of these six great new books, chosen especially for you by the Discover Britain team…

1. Darling Winston by David Lough
Winston Churchill was just six years old when he wrote his first letter to his mother Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill. This fascinating volume compiles all surviving correspondence between the two over the subsequent 40 years. Interspersed with context from the author, the letters are a goldmine of family gossip and political thoughts of the man who would become Britain’s famous wartime Prime Minister. (Head of Zeus, £30)

2. Tiny Britain by Dixe Wills
While our nation punches above its weight in historical importance, the British Isles is a fundamentally small place, so this hymn to our modestly-sized attractions feels right. Alongside the various tiny churches and pubs are more unexpected highlights such as a theatre in a converted public toilet and the Somerset pier that measures just 117 feet. All further proof that Britain is full of little wonders. (The AA, £16.99)

3. Water Ways by Jasper Winn
Appointed the Canal & River Trust’s first ever writer-in-residence, Jasper Winn set about exploring Britain’s 2,200 miles of inland waterways. The sedate pace of travel offers the author the chance to reflect on the communities that have built up around these ‘wet roads’ in the past 150 years. (Profile Books, £16.99)

4. Rooms of their Own by Nino Strachey
As the National Trust’s head of research and a relative of Bloomsbury Group author Lytton Strachey, Nino Strachey is well placed to explore the homes of three of the group’s writers. While lush photographs of Sissinghurst, Knole and Monk’s House encapsulate the group’s boho tastes, it is the insight into the intertwining lives played out here that makes this such a compelling read. (National Trust Books, £14.99)

5. November 1918 by Gordon Brook-Shepherd
As the centenary of Armistice Day approaches, the final 100 days of the First World War leading up to the signing of that momentous treaty are recounted here. Although not exclusively focused upon Britain’s involvement, original eyewitness sources add vivid details to the various subplots of a conflict that defined a nation. (Bloomsbury Reader, £20)

6. Britain’s Hidden Railways by Julian Holland
The 50 routes selected in this Times-approved book are all derelict or long gone, yet Julian Holland has expertly mapped them out. There is enough historic detail to satisfy train enthusiasts, while walkers and cyclists can use routes such as the wonderfully named Crab & Winkle Line from Canterbury to Whitstable as inspiration for exploring the country. (Harper Collins, £30)


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