Caught by the River

Bandcamp Friday: Ness

6th April 2023

Dear readers,

Just a quick heads up to let you know that tomorrow, on Bandcamp Friday, we will be listing a very small number of the rare and beautiful 2018 Quive-Smith Editions printing of Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood’s Ness for sale.

The book was printed in two runs, each limited to 525 copies. The very first edition, after its run was printed and dispatched, was found to have been mistakenly bound with some pages out of order, and therefore a followup edition was printed in which this error was corrected. Both editions were sold exclusively through Caught by the River. A commercial edition was later printed by Penguin.

Our handful of copies, recently unearthed in the office, are returned and warehouse-damaged examples of those very early handmade editions. As such all copies show small signs of imperfection from storage and transit: some have creases and folds; others wrinkling or tears to the translucent dust-jacket.

Regardless of their conditional flaws, both editions are now collectors’ items — and are rare enough that we can’t find a single example of a copy of either having being sold since we first sold them in 2018. This makes the job of judging their value (and any disparity between the value of the editions, or how different types of damage may affect said values) a difficult and unappealing one.

Our solution is that the copies will be sold unseen for the flat price of £50 — virtually the same as in 2018. Whether you get a creased 1st edition or a torn 2nd edition is in the hands of the tree gods. Though we hope buyers will be genuine fans and not people looking to make a quick buck on eBay, we can guarantee that you’ll be getting a good deal.

The books will be released here at 9am (UK time) tomorrow, Friday 7th April, and sold on a first come first served basis, limited to one copy per customer. They will be sent tracked and signed. No dibsing, quibbling or returns. Please don’t pester us if they’re sold out: once they’re gone, they’re gone. As with all sales from our Bandcamp page, proceeds will go directly back into the running of the site, where they will help to pay contributors, print esoteric magazines, and keep the lights on.

Ness is a prose-poem-mystery-play for the Anthropocene. Ness is Gawain and the Green Knight for the atomic age. Ness is to be spoken aloud, sung, staged. Ness is a black mass for dark times.

The image at the core of Ness is the ‘hagstone’ – a flint with a natural hole through it. In folklore across Europe, to look through such a stone is to see into the future or the past – or through the veil. Ness holds a hagstone up to the present moment, giving a glimpse both of our profoundly disturbed current predicament and the deep time that enfolds us.


Ness was published in a limited letterpress edition of 525 copies by Quive-Smith Press, containing twelve original drawings by Stanley Donwood. The lead type was cast especially for this edition. Ness was printed by Richard Lawrence in his workshop, and bound by the Green Street Bindery of Oxford. Ness took three years to make.

So – come take a trip to the nuclear beach.