An anthology of British and Irish nature writing selected by the natural history writer Patrick Barkham.
From Thomas Hardy's idyllic 'Wessex' to Nan Shepherd's fiercely beautiful Cairngorm mountains, the British landscape has been imagined and reimagined through our literature for as long as we can remember. Literature of the land has become part of our collective identity, seeped into our stories, and shaped the way we think about a place.
Patrick Barkham's anthology brings together a selection of wild writing from every corner of these islands. The chosen pieces are arranged in themes – from woods to birds and from childhood to future nature – and include extracts from much-loved classics alongside passages by some of our finest contemporary writers such as Robert Macfarlane and Helen Macdonald. These voices from the past and present will bring wonder as they journey around our fields, mountains and coastlines, exploring, describing and celebrating our landscape in all its rich diversity.
'Brimming with nature, this is a fitting tribute to the strangeness and beauty of our British isles' Financial Times, on Islander.
'Real, proper, close-to-poetry literature from the heralded nature writer. It is an ambitious thing, a hybrid of practical and ethereal. Barkham's best chapters made me want to drop everything and go there. An intriguing, cerebral guidebook' The Times, on Coastlines.
'"Every day," writes Barkham, "there is something surprising, joyful and new to be found beside the sea." The same might be said of many pages of his book. A delightful book' **** Sunday Telegraph, on Coastlines.
'To successfully combine this kind of travel writing and natural history with theories about cultural history requires accessible, rhythmic prose and a genial narrative voice, and [...] Barkham has both' Independent, 'Book of the Week', on Coastlines.
'You're left with that self-conscious feeling familiar from a lot of modern nature writing. You might have discovered something about badgers or whales or weeds or whatever, and you've almost certainly been offered some fine and well-crafted writing, but all you've really learnt is a bit more about people: their hopes, their prejudices, their love and greed, their fear of the dark, their need for demons. As Barkham points out, all we ever see in badgers is a mirror' Telegraph, on Badgerlands.