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Thousands of literary, popular, non-fiction and archival texts since the eighteenth century document the human experience of the British industrial canal. This book traces networks of literary canal texts across four centuries to understand our relationships with water, with place, and with the past. In our era of climate crisis, this reading calls for a rethinking of the waterways of literature not simply as an antique transport system, but as a coal-fired energy system with implications for the present. This book demonstrates how waterways literature has always been profoundly interested in the things we dig out of the ground, and the uses to which they are put. The industrial canal never just connected parts of Britain: via its literature we read the ways in which we are in touch with previous centuries and epochs, how canals linked inland Britain to Empire, how they connected forms of labour, and people to water.