Haunts of the Black Masseur

The Swimmer as Hero

Charles Sprawson author Amy Liptrot editor


Publisher:Vintage Publishing

Published:7th Feb '13


Available for immediate dispatch.

Haunts of the Black Masseur cover

A cult swimming classic, laden with references to literature, art and Olympic history

Offers an introduction to the great swimming heroes: Byron leaping into the surf at Shelley's beach funeral, Hart Crane, swallow-diving to his death in the Bay of Mexico, Ulysses, Leander, Weismuller and more.

A new re-issue of the cult swimming classic, a beautiful read filled with detailed description and powerful prose.


‘A luminously romantic history of swimming’ Guardian

Haunts of the Black Masseur is a dazzling introduction to the great swimming heroes, from Byron leaping into the surf at Shelley's funeral to Hart Crane diving to his death in the Bay of Mexico. Bursting with anecdotes, Charles Sprawson leads us into a watery world populated by lithe demi-gods – a world that has obsessed humans from the ancient Greeks and Romans, to Yeats, Woolf, Fitzgerald and Hockney.

Original, enticing and dripping with references to literature, film, art and Olympic history, this cult swimming classic pays sparkling tribute to water and the cultural meanings we attach to it.

‘This splendid and wholly original book is as zestful as a plunge in champagne’ Iris Murdoch

[Sprawson] has an ornate style of prose, apparently smooth, but rippling with wit and candour… Haunts of the Black Masseur was a delight when I read it first time round and 25 years on, it strikes me as even better -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday *
­Original and sparkling… A haunting, sensual, slippery read that will make you long for seaweed on your skin and sand between your toes. A must for swimmers -- Rebecca Wallersteiner * The Lady *
A wholly original idea...a brilliant translation of a singular passion -- Alan Ross * Times Literary Supplement *
A devoted and luminously romantic history of swimming * Guardian *
An exhilarating plunge into some of the deepest pools inside our heads... Magnificently obsessive, this social and cultural history of swimming is the best book I read this year -- J G Ballard

ISBN: 9780099577249

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 20mm

Weight: 234g

336 pages