“Growing up in Marsden among the hills of West Yorkshire, Simon Armitage has always associated his early poetic experiences with the night-time view from his bedroom window, those ‘private moonstruck observations’ and the clockwork comings and goings in the village providing rich subject matter for his first poems. Decades later, that window continues to operate as both framework and focal point for the writing…”
“On those high uplands and across those wide moors there was literally no one, the truer proportion of Marsden’s territory being a vast emptiness, full of terrifying and electrifying possibilities.”
Hardback, 14cmx2.5cmx21.6cm, 256 pages, Pub. Atlantic Books.
“We are surrounded in towns and cities by trees, quiet colossi that most of us don’t know by name. Does that matter? It is certainly possible to appreciate a tree for its shade and its shelter without knowing whether it is an alder, an elder, a lime or a beech. But really knowing a tree means looking harder, and it’s only then that we begin to see the stories beneath the bark – of how trees are integral to medicine and art as they are furniture and firewood; of the tree that inspired Ludwig van Beethoven and the one that gave solace to Anne Frank; of why wild figs grow on the banks of Sheffield’s rivers and why the ash tree is touched with magic and mischief…”
Paperback, 50th Anniversary Edition. 218 pages. Pub. William Collins
“J.S.Baker’s extraordinary classic of British nature writing was first published in 1967. Greeted with acclaim, it went on to win the Duff Cooper Prize, the pre-eminent literary prize of the time. Luminaries such as Ted Hughes, Barry Lopez and Andrew Motion have cited it as one of the most important books in twentieth-century nature writing.
“Despite the association of peregrines with the wild, outer reaches of the British Isles, The Peregrine is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J.A.Baker spent long winters looking and writing about the visitors from the uplands – peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them.
“This new edition of the timeless classic, published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first publication, features an afterword by one of the book’s greatest admirers, Robert Macfarlane.”
Hardback, 13.7cmx21.8cm, Pub. Granta 342p.
“In this timely and personal book, celebrated nature writer Patrick Barkham draws on his own experience as a parent and a forest school volunteer to explore the relationship between children and nature. Unfolding over the course of a year of snowsuits, muddy wellies and sunhats, Wild Child is both an intimate story of children finding their place in the natural world and a celebration of the delight we can all find in even modest patches of green.”
“WE sat on our favourite bench and I unpacked the treats. It’s surprising how pleasant it can be, drinking beer in the rain: getting wet on the inside and the outside at the same time…..The darkness grew: it seemed to rise up from the ground inch by inch. A small yelp, like someone treading on the paw of a Yorkshire terrier. ‘Little Owl’ said Eddie. Beneath our feet the world turned and kept turning.”
“In On the March, Barnes tells the moving story of a year spent tending the eight acres of land that backed onto their house….Working with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust they ensured the marsh became a superb conservation area.”
Illustrated by Agnes Miller Parker
Paperback. 141 pages, Pub. Little Toller Books
“…Set in Kent, where he later settled with his family, Bates returns to those trees of his youth to breathe life into the changing character of a single woodland year, describing its shifting seasonal moods from one April to the next, and revealing how precious they are to the English countryside, not only for plants and animals, but also for people… new edition is illustrated throughout with Agnes Miller Parker’s wonderful engravings.”
Paperback. 353 pages. Pub. Short Books. Photographic illustrations
“In the summer after leaving school, a young botanist sets out to fulfil a childhood dream – to find every species or orchid native to the British Isles.
“He has just a few months to complete his quest – no one has ever done it before within one growing season – and it will require ingenuity, stamina and a large dose of luck. As he battles the vagaries of the British climate, feverishly chasing each emerging bloom, Leif Bersweden takes the reader on a remarkable botanical journey.
“This study of the 52 native species is a fantastic gateway into the compendious world of orchids – one that will open your eyes to the rare hidden delights to be found on our doorstep.”
Drawings by Enrique Brinkman
Hardback. 292 pages, Pub. Jonathan Cape
“Blackburn mixes fragments of her own life with a series of eighteen ‘songs’ and all sorts of stories about the places and the people she meets in her quest to get closer to an understanding of Doggerland. Time Song reveals, yet again, that Julia Blackburn is one of the most original writers in Britain, with each of its pages bringing a surprise, an epiphany, a phrase of such beauty and simple profundity you can only gasp.”
“The Easternmost House describes a year of life at the easternmost edge of England, in all weathers. It is meditation on nature, on coastal erosion, and the changing seasons. It evokes the beauty, usefulness and erratic terror of the natural world, and explores how we can best preserve rural ways and livelihoods in rapidly changing times.”
“Against the backdrop of his quintessentially English upbringing and his army career, with its wonderful cast of snobbish neighbours, eccentric public school teachers and bullish staff sergeants, Jocelyn Brooke blends memoir, botany and satire to recall his lifelong quest. The Military Orchid is a comic masterpiece and became widely revered: Kingsley Amis described Brooke as ‘brilliant and exciting’ , John Betjamin called him ‘as subtle as the devil’ and to Anthony Powell he was ‘one of the most interesting and talented’ writers to emerge after the Second World War.”
“Now recognised as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century, Silent Spring exposed the destruction of wildlife through the widespread use of pesticides. Despite condemnation in the press and attempts by the chemical industry to ban the book, Rachel Carson succeeded in creating a new public awareness of the environment which led to changes in government policy and inspired the modern ecological movement.”
Winner of the East Anglian Book Awards 2019
From the marvellous to the macabre, Cocker tries to capture nature without flinching and in its entirety. Above all he reminds us that we are all just members of one miraculous family, fashioned from sunlight and the dust from old stars.
“As I sat reading in the garden I could hear what I thought was the rustle of a tiny animal in the near hedge. Each time I turned round to see there was no visual cue or clearer sound to locate its author. That puzzle continued for a couple of minutes until the penny finally dropped: the noise was coming from on top of my head. So I painstakingly lifted the peak and lowered my cap until, sure enough, there was a common darter dragonfly blithely sunning itself still in my cradled hands. I could now appreciate how the faint rubbing of those plasticised wings was the source of the intermittent message. As we observed one another I wondered what its vast compound eyes, heritage of the Carboniferous, made of its admirer.” page 165.
“The British love their countryside more than almost any other nation, yet they live in one of the most denatured landscapes on Earth. From the flatlands of Norfolk to the tundra-like expanse of the Flow Country in northern Scotland, Mark Cocker sets out on a personal quest to solve this puzzle. Radical, provocative and original, Our Place tackles some of the central issues of our time whilst mapping out a future in which this overcrowded island of ours could be a place fit not just for human occupants but also for its billions of wild citizens.”
Hardback, 16 x 3 x 24.5, 330 pages, illustrated photos and drawings, Pub. Little Toller.
“Arboreal is a landmark publication of new writing from woodlands across the British Isles. In memory of the great historical ecologist, Oliver Rackham, the book gathers a variety of voices – novelists, teachers, ecologists, poets, artists, architects and foresters – to explore why woods still matter and mean so much.”
Royalties from the sale of this publication to the charity Common Ground.
Frank Fraser Darling
Introduced by Iain Stewart
Paperback, 310 pages, Pub. Little Toller Books
“The Sky is cloudless on these ecstatic days. The sea is deep blue, unbroken and also limitless until the island shores are reached and a band of brilliantly white surf makes endless patterns of beauty as it falls from the rocks and rides back to meet the next oncoming swell.”
“In the ancient past we were stewards of the landscape, but modernity has detached us from it. Island Years and Island Farm are a remarkable portrait of a family adapting to isolation and the extremes of nature, in a land shaped by an increasing and intimate relationship with its people.” – Iain Stewart
Paperback, 480 pages. Pub. Arcturus
“On the Origin of Species was first published to great controversy in 1859. With it Charles Darwin changed forever the way men and women thought about the natural world. In this seminal work of natural philosophy, he articulated his theory of natural selection, or survival of the fittest, that put him at the centre of a debate on evolution and the origins of mankind, the embers of which are still burning today.”
“Roger Deakin’s unmatched exploration of our relationship with trees is autobiography, history, traveller’s tale and incisive work of natural history. It will take you into the heart of the woods, where we go ‘to grow, learn and change’.”
Paperback, 258 pages, Pub. Little Toller Books
“On the Marshes brings us an original voice which weaves Donaldson’s own story with others who have made these waterlands their home, and explores the conflicts between marsh-dwellers and corporate Britain, and the different ways we choose to live.”
“Capturing the intoxicating beauty of these rare and charismatic flowers, Orchid Summer explores their history, their champions, their place in our landscape and the threats they face. Combining infectious enthusiasm and a painterly eye with a deep knowledge that comes from a lifetime’s passionate devotion to his study, Dunn sweeps us up on his adventur.”
Paperback. 326 pages. Pub. William Collins
“Britain’s countryside is filled with grey squirrels and parakeets, snowdrops and pheasants, rhododendrons and rabbits, none of which are indigenous to Britain.
“The pace of invasion is now higher than ever before. But non-natives, problematic or peaceful, aren’t a modern phenomenon: they’ve always been with us. From the earliest settlement of our islands and the first experiments with farming, through Roman ad medieval times, to the age of exploration by Europeans and current period of globalised free-for-all, the story of invasive species is the story of our own past, present and future.”
Paperback. 256 pages, Pub. Penguin
“…confirms Paul Evans’s place as one of the most compelling voices in British nature writing today. Inquisitive and insightful, he explores hidden, halfway places – from ice-age caves to marshes and ridgeways – and asks us to reconsider our relationship with the secret wildernesses that shape this land.”
Hardback, 14 x 2.5 x 22cm, 175 pages, Pub. Batsford
“Evans explores diverse landscapes – wastelands, where ragwort and rosebay willowherb thrive: meadowland with a human footprint, where the Adonis blue butterfly can be spotted among the traffic and housing; the wild moors and forests that have seen the return of polecats and wild boar, and the creatures that can be seen in our gardens at night: pipistrelle bats, lacewings and the orb-weaver spider. Some of the wildlife has been thriving in Britain for centuries, some are new arrivals and some are sadly facing extinction.”
Paperback, 306 pages, photographic illustrations, Pub. William Collins
“Discover the lives of animals and plants; the passage of the seasons; visits by fellow enthusiasts; the play of light between branches; the influence of geology; and how woodland has shaped history, architecture and industry. On every page Fortey shows how an intimate study of one small wood can reveal so much about the natural world, and demonstrates his relish for the incomparable pleasures of discovery.”
“When the acclaimed novelist John Fowles encountered the woodlands of Devon, a place his family relocated to during the Blitz of the Second World War, a lifelong fascination and love of trees became a fixture in his imagination. The contrast between these wilder woods and the small orchard that his father cultivated in the garden of their suburban Essex home, unlocked a special curiosity that not only shaped his best-selling works of fiction but became the root of his wider interest in the relationship between people and the natural world.”
“I cherish trees because of their natural correspondence with the greener, more mysterious processes of mind – and because they seem to me the best, most revealing messengers to us from all nature, the nearest its heart.” – John Fowles
“Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, the Guardian’s award-winning writer Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham’s canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfisher’s dart. Her book is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it.”
Hardback, 25cm x 16cm x 3cm, 388 pages, Pub. William Collins
“Over the course of a year, leading historian and nature writer David Gange kayaked the weather-ravaged coasts of Atlantic Britain and Ireland from north to south: every cove, sound, inlet, island…
“Drawing on the archives of islands and coastal towns, as well as their vast poetic literatures in many languages, he shows that the neglected histories of these stunning regions are of real importance in understanding both the past and future of the whole archipelago. It is a history of Britain and Ireland like no other.”
The Wainwright Prize shortlist 2020
Paperback, 13 x 2.5 x 18 cm, 288 pages, Pub. Vintage
“As a small boy, Dave Goulson was obsessed with wildlife – from his childhood menagerie of exotic pets to his ill-fated experiments with taxidermy. But it was the bumblebee that fascinated him the most. Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the short-haired bumblebee was driven to extinction in Britain by intensive farming practises. With ground-breaking research into these curious creatures, a Sting in the Tale, tells the story of Goulson’s passionate drive to reintroduce them to their native land.”
Hardback, 280 pages, pub. Jonathan Cape.
“The Garden Jungle is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement and in the soil beneath our feet. Wherever you live right now, the chances are that there are worms, woodlice, centipedes, flies, silverfish, wasps, beetles, mice, shrews and much much more, quietly living within just a few paces of you.”
Paperback, 290 pages, Pub. Unbound
“In this ground breaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the transformative impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.”
“An antidote to the stress and confusion of modern life” Nick Baker, naturalist and TV presenter.
“Heartfelt…his love of nature shines through.” – Herald Scotland
“In prose and poetry both old and new, Spring mirrors the unfolding of the season, inviting us to see what’s around us with new eyes. Featuring original writing by Rob Cowen, Miriam Darlington and Stephen Moss, classic extracts from the work of George Orwell, Clare Leighton and HE Bates, and fresh new voices from across the UK, this is an inspiring and original collection of nature writing that brings the British springtime to life in all its vivid glory.”
Paperback, 16 x 2 x 22cm, 285 pages, Original drawings and photos from the 1939 first edition. Pub. Little Toller.
“On the eve of the Second World War the historian and artists, Dorothy Hartley, travelled by car and bicycle to document the crafts and cottage industries of England….Made in England captures life before mechanisation and the industrialisation of the countryside. Today, the experience of rediscovering these fragments is strange and wondrous.”
“It is pleasant to watch the quiet skilful worker. He sits low on a stool, the structural withies five feet long waving out in front of him as the hive turns round and round to his weavings. He has that look that comes to all men who work their wits against wild things, of thinking with their fingers.”
Paperback. 302 pages, photographic and hand drawn illustrations. Pub. Little Toller Books
“W.G.Hoskins was one of the most original and influential British historians of the twentieth century. He realised that landscapes are the richest record we have of the past, and with his masterpiece, The Making of the English Landscape, he changed forever how we experience the places we live and work in.”
Illustrated by Howard Phipps
Paperback. 252 pages, published by Little Toller Books.
“It is a life of simple, unchanging actions and of habits like instincts, of hard labour in sun and wind and rain from day to day, with its weekly break and rest, and of but few comforts and no luxuries…Yet I would rather know the histories of these humble, unremembered lives than of the great ones of the vale.”
“On the surface, A Shepherd’s Life is the story of one man, Caleb Bawcombe, a shepherd whose flocks graze the Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset borders. But through him we meet men and women of humble birth – poachers, gypsies, farmers and labourers – striving to survive on the land. As we read, the cumulative effect of their stories becomes much more than a record of rural life. It reads like a lost hymn, sung by people whose lives were disregarded and whose histories are now forgotten.”
Paperback, 13 x 2.5 x 20cm, 242 pages, Pub. Sort of Books.
“Five years after Findings broke the mould of nature writing, Kathleen Jamie subtly shifts our focus on landscape and the living world, daring us to look again at the ‘natural’, the remote and the human-made. She offers us the closest of perspectives and the most distant too: from vistas of cells beneath a hospital microscope, or the pores of a whale’s jawbone under restoration… We encounter killer whales circling below cliffs, noisy colonies of breeding gannets, and paintings deep in caves.”
Hardback. 248 pages. Photographic illustrations. Pub. Sort of Books
“In this luminous new essay collection, Kathleen Jamie visits archaeological sites and mines her own memories – of her grandparents, of youthful travels – to explore what surfaces and what reconnects us to our past. As always, she looks to the natural world for her markers and guides. Most movingly, she considers, as her father dies and her children leave home, the surfacing of an earlier, less tethered sense of herself.”
“On a chronological journey that takes us from post-war poets and artists to the late twentieth century and the free party scene… Richard King explores how Britain’s history and identity have been shaped by the mysterious relationship between music and nature.”
“Finally! A book about saving our planet that is fast, funny and inspiring too. Isabel doesn’t bother with an examination of the problem but gets right on with the solutions. Her aim: to look for every single way that we can take care of the planet; how we live and work, travel, shop, eat, drink, dress, vote, play, volunteer, bank -everything. The feel-good book of the year for anyone who loves nature and knows that one person can make a HUGE difference.”
“A manifesto of brilliant advice offered with humility and good grace. A practical guide to empower us all.” – Isabella Tree
“Global in its geography and written with great lyricism and power, Underland speaks powerfully to our present moment. From its remarkable opening pages to its deeply moving conclusion, it is a journey into wonder, loss, fear and hope. Underland marks a new turn in Macfarlane’s long-term mapping of the relations of landscape and the human heart. At once ancient and and urgent, this is a book that will change the way you see the world.”
“Into the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save…”
Hardback, 5.5 x 3 x 23cm, 226pp, Pub. Little Toller, 2020.
Usual price £16
“There are unfurlings in the forest. Anemones and ferns are springing from patient earth, from dim and ancient spaces. Evensong is erupting and the airspace is once again crowded with music after the winter silence. Bluebells are on the cusp. Spring light and warmth are spreading across the mountains and into me. I have embraced the darkness but now this feeling of light is intoxicating, explosive and alive.”
“Dara’s is an extraordinary voice and vision: brave, poetic, ethical, lyrical, strong enough to have made him heard and admired from a young age.” – Robert Macfarlane.
“A beautifully written, profoundly important classic of nature writing that will ignite a passion for the wild in every reader. A stunning achievement. I adored it.” – Lauren St John.
“In 2012 Ash Disease brought this under-appreciated tree to public attention. Oliver Rackham, the great botanical writer, responded by publishing this first history and ecology of the ash tree, exploring its place in human culture, explaining Ash Disease, and arguing that globalisation is the single greatest threat to the world’s trees and forests.”
“The light was slowly departing, and still on some of the slopes the compact gorse bushes were like flocks of golden fleeces. Robins and blackbirds sang while bats were flitting about me. Day was not dead but sleeping, and the few stars overhead asked for silence.”
“In March 1913, at the storms clouds of the Great War gathered, Edward Thomas set out from the suburbs of South London and travelled on his bicycle through Surrey, Hampshire and Wiltshire towards the Somerset coast. He was a thirty-five-year-old literary critic and country writer at the time, a husband and father, a lover of poetry and places, who took to the road to meet the arrival of spring after what had been a long, melancholy winter.”
The edition includes photographs Thomas took during his journey.