Neal Ascherson once described me as a ‘wandering disestablished scholar whose method is to walk and talk’. I quite like this even though it may confirm some readers’ apprehensions.
I also feel some kinship with the metal detectorists whose world I briefly entered in A Journey Through Ruins. Like them, I work by picking up a signal in the present and then digging, employing various tools to redefine the opening question as I go. I use libraries and personal testimony, and sometimes ‘theoretical’ perspectives too. I have also benefited from journalistic commissions, which have enabled me to get to people and places that would otherwise be out of reach.
The best of these came when I was writing Tank. I kept arriving in situations where people seemed to be expecting a quite different ‘Patrick Wright’. I could never be sure, but perhaps they had mixed me up with the former Head of the British Diplomatic Service, now known as Baron Wright of Richmond.
I have written six books by these methods so far, and look forward to producing more.
Books (as sole author)
Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War
Oxford University Press, 25 October 2007
Tank; the Progress of a Monstrous War Machine
Faber. US edition: Viking, 2002; Penguin 2003
The River; the Thames in Our Time
BBC Worldwide, 1999
The Village that Died for England
Cape. Revised and enlarged edition, Faber, 2002
A Journey Through Ruins
Radius, 1991; enlarged edition, Flamingo 1993
On Living in an Old Country; the National Past in Contemporary Britain
Verso, 1985 & 1991
Books (as co-author)
Stanley Spencer (Co-written with Timothy Hyman)
London: Tate Publishing, 2001, 264pp.
Recording Britain (with David A. Mellor and Gill Saunders)
London: David & Charles, 1990.
What a Way to Run a Railroad; an analysis of radical failure (with Charles Landry et al)