Hermit: A memoir of finding freedom in a wild place Leaving the Yellow House Kelly + Victor Lady Sings the Blues
Jerusalem Titus Groan The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas Don Quixote
Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History Against Nature It Was Snowing Butterflies Food Of The Gods: A Radical History of Plants, Psychedelics and Human Evolution
My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun Hermit: A memoir of finding freedom in a wild place Leaving the Yellow House Kelly + Victor

Jade Angeles Fitton: Misfits, Loners and Rebels - My Favourite Books of Non-Conformists

By Hutchinson Heinemann

Jade Angeles Fitton: Misfits, Loners and Rebels - My Favourite Books of Non-Conformists

By Hutchinson Heinemann

A selection of books about (or by) my favourite non-conformists, which I read while living alone and on Lundy Island.

Hermit: A memoir of finding freedom in a wild place

Hermit: A memoir of finding freedom in a wild place

Jade Angeles Fitton

£18.99 £18.04

Leaving the Yellow House

Leaving the Yellow House

Saul Bellow

£3.00 £2.85

This short story–from a collection of darkly comic short stories–contains, in my mind, the greatest loner and non-conformist: the generally unlikeable character of Hattie Waggoner (who I came to love). In the story of Leaving Yellow House, Waggoner lives alone in a yellow house in the Sego Desert. The story details her lies, alcoholism and, ultimately, a car accident. It is a tender story of a very hard woman who, given the opportunity to atone for her sins, rebels against expectations and choses not to. I still vividly remember reading this.

Kelly + Victor

Kelly + Victor

Niall Griffiths

£15.99 £15.19

A book about two young, rebel lovers: think a depraved Romeo and Juliet for the modern age. This is a novel of two parts, one told from the perspective of Viktor the other told from the perspective of Kelly. Griffiths is a master at creating both beauty and humour in unlikely places.

Lady Sings the Blues

Lady Sings the Blues

Billie Holiday

£9.99 £9.49

Billie Holiday’s memoir details the endurances and experiences of her life: rape, jail, injustice, addiction, love, success, racism, abuse, riches, poverty, ecstasy. Holiday tells the story of her life without ever giving way to self-pity. Holiday is always clear-headed, honest, intelligent and very witty. I think of her story and the way she chose to tell it often. It’s a truly remarkable book.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Jez Butterworth

£10.99 £10.44

I didn’t make it to see Jerusalem performed the first time around. When I read the play it reminded me of the people I grew up around, when Devon was a little wilder, and I felt a pang of envy towards the main character, Rooster, being able to live in his caravan in the woods, smelling the wild garlic in spring. I did make it to see the play the second time around and, while there in the huge theatre, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the audience would be seeking the strange man in the woods’ eviction were he not Mark Rylance.

Titus Groan

Titus Groan

Mervyn Peake

£14.99 £14.24

This is the first novel in the Gormenghast series. I read this on Lundy Island while we were living in the church vestry. There seemed to me no better book to read in a deserted, wind-swept church than this gothic epic about a strange and isolated noble family in an even stranger land. An ominous thread of looming uprising and a rebellion is weaved throughout that comes to fruition towards the end.

The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas

The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

£8.99 £8.54

These are an often infuriating read as Thomas typically declares undying love to at least two women at once while eating wine gums. But it is also beautiful and moving, full of sincere longing and existential angst, and whether he is being entirely honest with his loves or not, Thomas still makes the case for love being a spiritual as well as bodily act. Of course, Collected Poems: Dylan Thomas 1934-1953 should go alongside this - my all-time favorite poet.

Don Quixote

Don Quixote

Cervantes

£13.99

Cervantes was one of literature’s greatest non-conformists who, in Don Quixote, immortalized another. This is a chivalric epic about a noble turned insane knight and his farmer friend and aid, Sancho. The two travel in the pursuit of love, honour and knowledge and demonstrate, often unwittingly, the idiosyncratic intelligence of the individual, verses an often pompous and unjust society, which is frequently skewered – but only up to a point (it was the 16th century, after all).

Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History

Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History

Dr Janina Ramirez

£10.99 £10.44

Ramirez creates a totally immersive, relatable and modern book about the famous anchoress from the 12th century. It is a sympathetic and insightful look into the life of a woman who, after receiving a series of religious visions, made a pact with god that she would live in one room only for the rest of her life, and so she did—and made it a radical act.

Against Nature

Against Nature

Joris-Karl Huysmans

£9.99 £9.49

Totally ridiculous and equally profound, this is a cautionary tale of solitude. Confining himself to his house, disgusted by nature and wanting only the artificial, the protagonist Des Essientes locks himself away and creates an entire world in his own image. However, eating, reading, seeing and doing only as he pleases will, inevitably, lead to disaster—and, possibly, death. Des Essientes compares his forced return to society to that of a non-believer trying to embrace religion. The author, Huysmans, also spent a lot of time in solitude and became an oblate monk.

It Was Snowing Butterflies

It Was Snowing Butterflies

Charles Darwin

£3.00 £2.85

I didn’t have much money at the time, so these Penguin Little Black Classics that had recently been released were a blessing. Darwin was certainly a rebel of the scientific order of his day and this is a gorgeous book about his travels on HMS Beagle that would lead him to the Galapagos. It chronicles the natural wonders he encountered on the way: from flying gossamer spiders to the sky snowing butterflies. It’s magical. Ever since I read this I have wanted to take a very long sea voyage.

Food Of The Gods: A Radical History of Plants, Psychedelics and Human Evolution

Food Of The Gods: A Radical History of Plants, Psychedelics and Human Evolution

Terence McKenna

£14.99 £14.24

Before Merlin Sheldrake’s brilliant Entangled Life there was this, which I read at Croyde. McKenna – ethnobotanist and ‘psychonaut’ – explores, with a scholarly mind, the influence of psychedelic plants on the evolution of humans and our consciousness; positing–among other theories–that the accidental foraging of magic mushrooms by our ancient ancestors help shape, and possibly develop, our imaginations. Journeying to remote tribes where psychedelic plants are viewed as sacred and used help to access ‘higher selves’, this radical thinker, decades ahead of his time, who had—and continues to have—his fair share critics, changed the way I look look at plants forever.

My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun

My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun

Emily Dickinson

£3.00 £2.85

Dickinson is possibly one of the most famous recluses. She wrote thousands of poems locked away in a room in her Massachusetts home. I wrote a poem about a dying wasp I’d seen while cleaning a holiday home and someone compared this poem to Emily Dickinson’s poetry. They said they hadn’t enjoyed my poem, so this comparison was not meant as a compliment. But it set me on a journey of reading and learning about Dickinson–who fascinated me. I saw parallels between our respective solitudes and, at the time, it seemed like my poetry wouldn’t be published until after my death either! Like an anchoress, Dickinson spent much of her time in solitude in a single room, contemplating eternity, god, and death.

Jade Angeles Fitton's book Hermit: A Memoir of Finding Freedom in a Wild Place is out 18 May. 

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