The Warlow Experiment (Hardback)

Alix Nathan

What kind of person keeps a man underground for seven years?
And who would agree to be part of such an experiment?

A Sunday Times fiction book of the year
A Times Book of the Year
A Daily Mail Historical Book of the Year

'An extraordinary, quite brilliant book' - C. J. Sansom
'Original and gripping' - The Times
'Powerful and unsettling' - Andrew Taylor
'Engrossing ... compelling' - The Sunday Times
'Powerful, imaginative' - Literary Review

What kind of person keeps a man underground for seven years?
And who would agree to be part of such an experiment?

Herbert Powyss lives on a small estate in the Welsh Marches, with enough time and income to pursue a gentleman's fashionable cultivation of exotic plants and trees. But he longs to make his mark in the field of science - something consequential enough to present to the Royal Society in London.

He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: for seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the cellar of the manor house, fitted out with books, paintings and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter. The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions. The pay? Fifty pounds per annum, for life.

Only one man is desperate enough to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate labourer with a wife and six children to provide for. The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included. In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister.

BBC History Magazine Best Historical Fiction of 2019

Publication date: 04/07/2019

£12.99

ISBN: 9781788161695

Imprint: Serpent's Tail

Subject: Fiction

The Warlow Experiment (Ebook)

Alix Nathan

Buy from

What kind of person keeps a man underground for seven years?

A Sunday Times fiction book of the year
'She is an original, with a virtuoso touch' - Hilary Mantel
'An extraordinary, quite brilliant book' - C. J. Sansom
'A powerful and unsettling novel' - Andrew Taylor

The year is 1793 and Herbert Powyss is set on making his name as a scientist. Determined to study the effects of prolonged solitude on another human being, he advertises for someone willing to live in his cellar for seven years in return for a generous financial reward. The only man to apply is John Warlow, a semi-literate farm labourer with a wife and six children to support. Cut off from nature, Warlow soon begins losing his grip on sanity while, above ground, Powyss rapidly becomes obsessed with Warlow's wife, Hannah.

The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included. In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister.

One of 2019's most high-profile hardback publications, now out in paperback.

Featured on Radio Four's Book at Bedtime

BBC History Magazine Best Historical Fiction of 2019

Publication date: 04/07/2019

£6.99

ISBN: 9781782835073

Imprint: Serpent's Tail

Subject: Fiction

The Warlow Experiment (Audiobook)

Alix Nathan

Buy from

What kind of person keeps a man underground for seven years?
And who would agree to be part of such an experiment?

A Sunday Times fiction book of the year
A Times Book of the Year
A Daily Mail Historical Book of the Year

'An extraordinary, quite brilliant book' – C. J. Sansom
'Original and gripping' – The Times
'Powerful and unsettling' – Andrew Taylor
'Engrossing … compelling' – The Sunday Times
'Powerful, imaginative' – Literary Review

What kind of person keeps a man underground for seven years?
And who would agree to be part of such an experiment?

Herbert Powyss lives on a small estate in the Welsh Marches, with enough time and income to pursue a gentleman's fashionable cultivation of exotic plants and trees. But he longs to make his mark in the field of science – something consequential enough to present to the Royal Society in London.

He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: for seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the cellar of the manor house, fitted out with books, paintings and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter. The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions. The pay? Fifty pounds per annum, for life.

Only one man is desperate enough to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate labourer with a wife and six children to provide for. The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included. In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister.

BBC History Magazine Best Historical Fiction of 2019

Publication date: 04/07/2019

£19.99

ISBN: 9781782835783

Imprint: Serpent's Tail

Subject: Fiction

The Warlow Experiment (Paperback)

Alix Nathan

What kind of person keeps a man underground for seven years?

A Sunday Times fiction book of the year
'She is an original, with a virtuoso touch' - Hilary Mantel
'An extraordinary, quite brilliant book' - C. J. Sansom
'A powerful and unsettling novel' - Andrew Taylor

The year is 1793 and Herbert Powyss is set on making his name as a scientist. Determined to study the effects of prolonged solitude on another human being, he advertises for someone willing to live in his cellar for seven years in return for a generous financial reward. The only man to apply is John Warlow, a semi-literate farm labourer with a wife and six children to support. Cut off from nature, Warlow soon begins losing his grip on sanity while, above ground, Powyss rapidly becomes obsessed with Warlow's wife, Hannah.

The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included. In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister.

One of 2019's most high-profile hardback publications, now out in paperback.

Featured on Radio Four's Book at Bedtime

BBC History Magazine Best Historical Fiction of 2019

Publication date: 01/07/2020

£8.99

ISBN: 9781788161701

Imprint: Serpent's Tail

Subject: Fiction

Alix Nathan

Alix Nathan

Alix Nathan lives in the Welsh Marches where she owns some ancient woodland with her husband. Her short stories have been published in Ambit, The London Magazine, New Welsh Review and read on BBC Radio 4. Her last two novels were published by Parthian Press.