The figurative language of Francis Spufford

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from Francis Spufford…

Francis Spufford is an English writer, primarily of non-fiction, and a teacher at Goldsmiths College in London on the MA in Creative and Life Writing program. In 2016, however, he published his first novel, Golden Hill, subtitled “a tale of old New York.” The book tells the story of a young man who lands in Manhattan in 1746 with a pile of money — from mysterious sources — and a burning desire to spend it.

The book earned the  Costa Book Award for a first novel, and was widely praised by critics including The Times, London, which described it as a book, “taut with twists and turns” that “keeps you gripped until its tour-de-force conclusion.”

Here is my favourite simile from its 336 pages:

‘I’m Lovell,’ said the merchant, rising from his place by the fire. His qualities in brief, to meet the needs of a first encounter: fifty years old; a spare body but a pouched and lumpish face as if Nature had set to work upon the clay with knuckles; shrewd and anxious eyes; brown small-clothes; a bob-wig yellowed by tobacco smoke.

Spufford is also known for his non-fiction books: