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The Gallows Pole

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,939 ratings  ·  261 reviews

'Powerful, visceral writing, historical fiction at its best. Benjamin Myers is one to watch' Pat Barker

'Phenomenal' Sebastian Barry
'Superb' The Times

From his remote moorland home, David Hartley assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published February 21st 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published May 17th 2017)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  1,939 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017, modern-lit
An impressive recreation of West Yorkshire in the late eighteenth century, this historical novel tells the tale of the rise and fall of the Cragg Vale Coiners and their leader "King David" Hartley. The coiners profited by clipping coins and forging fake money, operating from well defended bases on the moors above the Calder Valley. Myers knows his area inside out, and the book is full of atmospheric descriptions and brilliant writing.

The gang's success was largely due to their local popularity
Gumble's Yard
Now winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction - a book I read twice in 2017 due to its longlisting for the Republic of Consciousness Prize.

This is why I rite these werds down for you new becors historee is only ever remembured by the powerfull and the welthy the book lerners in the big howses with thur fancy kwills … to these .. I say this is my story not my confeshun My story as I sor it These are not the werds of a man turned sower with regret and if I had another chance Id do
Peter Boyle
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating and grisly tale this is. Based on true events, The Gallows Pole tells the story of the Cragg Vale Coiners, a gang of forgers that operated in rural Yorkshire of the 18th century. Led by the formidable "King" David Hartley, this motley band of weavers and labourers soon found themselves the bearers of unimaginable wealth, while committing the biggest fraud in British history.

Mingled with the account of the Coiners' activities are excerpts of Hartley's memoir, composed from a ja
Viv JM
3.5 stars

The Gallows Pole is a fictionalised account of the rise and fall of the Cragg Valley Coiners in 18th century Yorkshire. The sense of time and place conveyed by the author is absolutely superb - this is a very immersive book, and I enjoyed that about it. However, I think it was just a bit too...well...blokey for my tastes - kind of like historical fiction for bearded real ale drinkers. Women in this world existed only as receptacles for a man's seed, apparently. Oh, and to serve their al
I hesitate to write a review for this book because I cannot do it justice. I want to say The Gallows Pole is lyrical, evocative, moving, haunting and memorable, but I have used these adjectives so many times to describe lesser books.
While reading this true story of the David Hartley and the Clagg Vale Coiners I could see the moors, hear the wind, feel the deep bone aching weariness of the hardworking men and women of 18th century Yorkshire. Benjamin Myers' prose took me out of my own environment
Paul Fulcher
Now on the outstanding longlist for the 2017 Republic of Consciousness Prize for 'gorgeous prose and hardcore literary fiction' from small, independent presses.
So name your Gods lads. Honour them. Live amongst them. And always remember your place. Because England is changing. The wheels of industry turn ever onwards and the trees are falling still. Last week I did chance to meet a man down there in Cragg Vale who told me that soon this valley is to be invaded. He spoke of chimneys and waterways
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2018
It is a land where those in charge have no interest in you until you threaten their income and power, David Hartley is drawing together the local people to assist him in his master plan, coin clipping. He looks after those in need and is not afraid to crush opponents and as his power grows, he declares himself King. This fraud on an epic scale has been noted in London and excise men under the command of William Deighton are dispatched to ensure that justice is served and equilibrium is restored. ...more
The Gallows Pole is one of the books long-listed for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2018.

The book recounts events that took place in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, over a few years in the 1760s: the exploits of a gang known as the ‘Cragg Vale Coiners’. ‘Coining’ was the illegal practice of removing shavings of gold from the edges of genuine coins, milling the edges of those coins smooth again and then using the shavings to produce counterfeit coins.

The narrative is interspersed with
Paul "Axl" Hurman
This book reads like you are being told an ancient folk tale, evoking every visceral aspect of the people it portrays and the grit and dirt of the countryside of the times. It is utterly compelling and compulsive. Superb. I highly recommend this book.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 2018-rofc

The Gallows Pole is published by Bluemoose Books, one of the UK's small, independent publishers. On its website, Bluemoose Books says it " an independent publisher based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Kevin and Hetha Duffy started Bluemoose in 2006 and as a ‘family’ of readers and writers we’re passionate about the written word and stories."

If you are of a certain age, like me, The Gallows Pole is a song by L
Jonathan Pool
An excellent story, with prose that flows easily and convincingly.
A very impressive book that will hopefully get a wide reading audience.

Benjamin Myers won the Roger Deakin Award for The Gallows Pole. This is a literary prize that rewards writing about nature.
How strange it is that The Gallows Pole is also a story of human's (men) violence and barbarity. It's also a book that takes well known Yorkshire history from 1769/70 and blends in a fictionalised first hand account of those events.

The main
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
I thought this was extraordinary and perfectly pitched. I’m biased because this is set on my home turf and speaks straight to my sense of belonging, but it stands as amongst the most visceral and intense books of my year.
A friend surprised me with a copy of this in the mail. I've been waiting a good year in anticipation of reading it and my expectations were relatively high (which is usually a recipe for disaster/disappointment). But I would read this again solely for Myers's prose--his sense of rhythm, command of dialect, and ability to immerse the reader in such a visceral time and place were delightful.

The specter of an industrialized future hangs over the moors as Myers turns the Cragg Vale Coiners into vul
Tom Mooney
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE GALLOWS POLE by Benjamin Myers.

My god, this is such a good book.

It tells the story of the Cragg Vale Coiners, a band of coin clippers on the Yorkshire moors in the late 18th century. In particular it tracks the rise and downfall of 'king' David Hartley, their leader, who developed the illegal forgery of coins, bringing wealth and happiness to the Calderdale valley, before the authorities took him down.

The writing just crackles with life. At times it's beautiful and mystical, at others it has
Andy Weston
The Gallows Pole - Benjamin Myers

I have been reading plenty of books from outside these shores recently so it was a real pleasure to enjoy something so much that is practically from our backyard; West Yorkshire and Cumbria. Certainly Benjamin Myers is one of our upcoming young authors. Amongst his novels so far, Beastings (a young woman with an infant on the being chased across the wilds of Cumbria), and a dark series of two detective novels set in the same valley as this book and also in the
Jackie Law
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Gallows Pole, by Benjamin Myers, is a fictionalised story based on surviving accounts of true events from eighteenth century northern England. In a remote Yorkshire hamlet, on the cusp of the industrial revolution, a local man named David Hartley pronounces himself King. He leads a gang of weavers and land workers in an illegal enterprise that puts food on the tables and clothes on the backs of the poorest in his area at the expense of those who have sufficient. Hartley and his brothers talk ...more
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mood that the author created and maintained throughout the book was something special. I felt as though I was there on the moors in 1760s, because the writing was so descriptive and immersive. The book, however, was also a mixed bag for me at times, because the immersive power came more from the poetic quality of the text rather than the storyline itself. I was expecting more from the plot, so I had to adjust my expectations, but for me this book was all about the atmosphere. 3.5 stars round ...more
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 A visceral tale of gold, greed, and betrayal set in the wild Yorkshire moors, based on historical accounts of a gang of 18th C. coin clippers and the men determined to bring them down. Myers writes of the moors in language vivid and, at times, breathtaking in its harsh poetry.
Jonathan Carr
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As Kinge Dayvid hisself mite say Bluddy magnifisunt
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, uk
Were the Cragg Vale Coiners heroes who fed the Yorkshire poor and fought the greedy Crown? Were they criminals who, by forging coins, ruined honest merchants and threatened the rule of law? Is the standoff between the high representatives of the state and the band of counterfeiters in the valley an allegory for the fight between freedom versus authority, the agrarian society versus industrialization, the past versus the future? Between these conceptual lines lies the wide territory that has the ...more
Marcus Wilson
This is a long and ambitious novel, part crime thriller, part historic fiction, part folk horror thriller. Benjamin Myers should be applauded for pulling it off, what could have been a disaster is nothing short of a triumph in my opinion. His best work to date.
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admire this novel a lot, evocative language and an interesting historical event turned into fiction. Yet, admiration does not mean love. It is one of the best books I read this year, yet, I am not smitten with it, I admire it for its cleverness, structure, avoidance of cliches, the biblical feel and the way it brought Yorkshire of the 18th century alive. Yet somehow, it kept me too far at a distance at times.
I hope that the seven titles on this year's MBP longlist that I haven't read yet are as stimulating and well written as The Gallows Pole. Every bit as compelling as His Bloody Project, and, in its own way, equally as nuanced. ...more
K.E. Coles
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic! I'm lost for words it's so good. Based on true events, it's beautifully-written. I felt utterly immersed in 18th century Calderdale and the lives of the coiners. It's dark, brutal, brilliant. ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I couldn’t put this down! The Brutal and fascinating story of the Cragg vale coiners. An amazing insight to the true story of “King” David Hartley. I cannot recommend this book enough - it can be quite gruesome at times and there’s no doubt it it would have been a gruesome time to be alive
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Game of Thrones had a "King of the North" but The Gallows Pole has the TRUE King of the North!  So forget those books and read this one instead cos it is based on true facts.  I am not a fan of historical stories, true or not, they can come across as very dry and dull,  everybody raves about Wolf Hall which I gave up on, but the cover of the Gallows Pole is so stunning that I couldn't resist.  I'm so glad I gave it a go.

The book draws you in right from the start, the almost poetic style to the w
You know how people say don't judge a book by its cover? I think we actually all do that. Sometimes, I pick a book just because I fancy the cover, and have no idea what's inside. But when what's inside happens to be such a joyous, wonderfully written, stupendously atmospheric story - as is the case with The Gallows Pole - well, then, my mind gets happy. Myers is a very unsettling writer. He manages to lure you in and then shackle you to the bed before you've properly realized what he wants from ...more
Michelle Mortimer
Wow. I’m not sure what to say about this book. I started it, and really didn’t like it. It immediately gave me the creeps so I turned it upside down and put it at the bottom of my pile of books to read, and tried to forget about it. But something about kept nagging at me. I picked it up and tried to read it again. I think the fact the characters weren’t likeable didn’t draw me in straight away - I need to feel a connection. But then it happened, I made a connection, with the biggest character in ...more
Ian Mond
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers is bloody brilliant. It brings to life a period of history - the dying gasp before the industrial revolution - and a practice - coining (a form of forgery popular in the 18th Century) - that I knew fuck all about. The story is pieced together from the records of the time and shines a sympathetic light on King David Hartley (real person) and his coining operation which fed the people of The Cragg Vale for two years. At the same time Myers doesn’t flinch away fro ...more
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Benjamin Myers was born in Durham, UK, in 1976.

He is an award-winning author and journalist.

His first short story collection, Male Tears, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2021.

His novel The Offing was published by Bloomsbury in 2019 and is a best-seller in Germany. It was serialised by Radio 4's Book At Bedtime and Radio 2 Book club choice. It is being developed for stage and has been optioned f

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9 likes · 0 comments
“Fuck the king because you can be sure the king is already fucking you.” 3 likes
“David Hartley appeared of the earth, of the moors. A man of smoke and peat and heather and fire, his body built for the hills. Where one began the other ended.” 1 likes
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