Lud Heat

A Book of the Dead Hamlets

Iain Sinclair

With an introduction by Allen Fisher, and afterword by Michael Moorcock. Illustrations and maps by Brian Catling.


Iain Sinclair’s classic early text, Lud Heat, explores mysterious cartographic connections between the six Hawksmoor churches in London. In a unique fusion of prose and poetry, Sinclair invokes the mythic realm of King Lud, who according to legend was one of the founders of London, as well as the notion of psychic ‘heat’ as an enigmatic energy contained in many of its places. The book’s many different voices, including the incantatory whispers of Blake and Pound, combine in an amalgamated shamanic sense that somehow works to transcend time. The transmogrifying intonations and rhythms slowly incorporate new signs, symbols and sigils into the poem that further work on the senses. This was the work that set the ‘psychogeographical’ tone for much of Sinclair’s mature work, as well as inspiring novels like Hawksmoor and Gloriana from his peers Peter Ackroyd and Michael Moorcock, and Alan Moore’s From Hell.


This new re-issue includes the illustrations and photographs from the original 1975 edition, which were absent from some later editions.

Lud Heat combines researches into the sinister dotted lines which link up the Hawksmoor churches of East London – complete with a very fine diagram displaying the pentacles and triangulations which connect churches to plague pits to the sites of the notorious Whitechapel and Ratclyffe Highway murders – with a broken sequence of breathtakingly lovely modern freeverse lyrics.”

– Jenny Turner, London Review of Books


Lud Heat is ostensibly a narrative of a period of employment in the Parks Department of an East London borough; this temporal location, however, receives less stress than the spatial one with which it intersects: that of the pattern imposed on the townscape by Nicholas Hawksmoor’s churches, potent presences in the poet’s working environment, around which accretes a second temporal dimension, historical and mythological ... When Sinclair writes of the modern city that ‘natural & ancient rhythms are perverted in Golgonooza’s architecture’ it is as part of a firmly patterned written structure that we have first of all to take his words. Only thus, sustained by powerful written ligatures, can the arrangement of the poet’s information command any credence as argument.”

– Andrew Crozier

Iain Sinclair describes himself as a “British writer, documentarist, film maker, poet, flâneur, metropolitan prophet and urban shaman, keeper of lost cultures and futurologist.”  He was born in Cardiff in 1943 but has lived much of his life in Hackney, East London.  He has written considerably and famously about the capital city and for doing so is often linked to the term ‘psychogeography.’  His numerous novels include Downriver (which won both the James Tait Black Prize and the Encore Prize), Radon Daughters, Landor’s Tower and Dining on Stones (shortlisted for the Ondaatje prize). He has also written a number of non-fiction books that explore the mythical underpinnings of the ancient city of London, including Lights Out for the Territory, London Orbital and Edge of the Orison. No stranger to television, Sinclair has also presented a number of films for BBC2’s Late Show and been involved with a series of documentaries for Channel 4, including Asylum, which won the Montreal Festival short film prize.

“A wonderful poem” — Peter Ackroyd, Time Out


“dark, dense and learned ... Sinclair means his dark stuff, and makes it moving.” — Karl Miller, London Review of Books


“The book burns me at a touch. It is an essay, it is a poem, it is madness, it claims the razor’s edge.” — Chris Torrance, Poetry Information


“...Ackroyd acknowledges the most powerful source of his fiction ... Sinclair was the first to trace the patterning of Hawksmoor’s churches ... and note how subsequent structures ... and events shade in the ground-plan even more darkly. ... Sinclair’s eye, trained in rapid perception, uncovers the secrets of his sites. He was one of a group of poets who, from the early 1970s, resuscitated the dead art of English poetry with a body of truly fiery work ...” — Tony Dunn, Split