Lights Bearing West


Lights Bearing West is the latest incredible edition of  The Diary of the Smith-Wailey’s by Tony Wailey.

This book is about messages, those sent, delivered, those picked up, put down, kept or discarded; it deals with memory, place, and distance,; questions that are the reason why they always contain a context of their own both within and often outside the reach of any individual owner, as if they themselves are the arbiters of a wider story as the Mersey roars out to the sea. Going away, having adventures and coming home, either first hand or tenth are all part of everyone’s trilogy in Liverpool even for those who have never left the river.


Trace elements of ancestral blood, Guinness, and the salt of seas and rivers saturate these pages, a document of vast oceans, heartbreak, demented docklands and night visions of Valparaiso…Tony Wailey has a maritime soul and the romantic heart of a poet and his beauty of a book is a waterfront archive of restless memory and unforgotten ghosts.” – Jeff Young, author of Ghost Town


“Lights Bearing West pulsates with the experience, trauma and joy of lives spent at sea. Through vivid personal stories of seafaring work, of connections forged between different places and of union struggles, Tony Wailey brings to life past maritime worlds in ways which speak to crucial contemporary political questions and concerns.” – Professor David Featherstone, University of Glasgow


Join us in WoWFEST: Fahrenheit 2024 for the launch of Lights Bearing West with Tony Wailey

Wednesday 22nd May, 7.00pm, Smithdown Social Arts Hub


Author Tony Wailey, holding Lights Bearing West book Tony Wailey was born in Liverpool in 1947. He is the author of eight books, including pocket sized novels and three collections of poetry. Originally a seaman, his work concerns the cosmopolitan nature of the maritime city. He wrote Edgy Cities with Steve Higginson, which had at its central theme the historic flows of people and ideas to and from Liverpool. His latest work concerns the context of place in the narratives of family history. In this second volume of the Diary of the Smyth Waileys, he still finds it amazing that his great uncle, John Brown Wailey, sailed on deck as a fully-fledged, able-bodied seaman aboard a 400-ton sailing ship from San Francisco to Sydney in 1885. He was just nineteen. A hundred years later, Wailey was awarded a Doctorate for his work on Liverpool’s Sea Going Communities and its Seaman’s Union. He realises now how little he knew.