In 2013, tired of shabby flatshares and frenetic London life, Danie Couchman bought a narrowboat. Unable to afford a permanent mooring, she moved every fortnight, navigating the Thames, the Grand Union Canal and the River Lea. In five years of itinerant, off-grid living in this urban wilderness, she reconnected with nature and found friends amid the eclectic, nomadic community of boat-dwellers.
Living in the Sound of the Wind
The writer and naturalist WH Hudson (1841–1922) was born and raised in Argentina, where he learned frontier skills from the gauchos. Part biography, part travelogue, this book follows his journeys to Patagonia and explores his later career as a literary celebrity in England where, like his friend Joseph Conrad, he spent the rest of his life as an exile.
Journeys to the Other Side of the World
Further Adventures of a Young Naturalist
Following his breakthrough television series Zoo Quest, David Attenborough travelled extensively with a cameraman to make nature documentaries in locations as far away as Madagascar, the Pacific Islands and Australia’s Northern Territory. They also filmed the regions’ indigenous peoples and their traditions, including the land divers of Pentecost Island, the sing-sings of New Guinea and a Royal Kava ceremony on Tonga. With characteristic charm, insight and humour, he recalls these journeys, and his encounters with animals such as paradise birds, chameleons and sifakas.
Exploring Collections from the Endeavour Voyage 1768–1771
Young, wealthy and passionate about plants, Joseph Banks sailed with Captain Cook on Endeavour’s 1768 voyage in search of a southern landmass predicted by geographers. They visited Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia, with Banks collecting and recording plants, wildlife, landscape and artefacts. This volume brings together some of the riches brought home on Endeavour, including maps, drawings and paintings, landscapes and Maori and Aboriginal objects, along with portraits of Banks himself. Foreword by Sir David Attenborough.
Working with Nature
Saving and Using the World's Wild Places
Combining memoir and travelogue, the botanist and conservationist Jeremy Purseglove describes how nature has long been exploited across our planet, considering issues such as the palm oil trade in Indonesia, land grabs in Africa and peat farming in Britain. He outlines how the earth's precious resources can be harvested more carefully and suggests workable alternatives to what he refers to as 'grim industrialised monocultures'.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist
The Zoo Quest Expeditions
In 1954 a young David Attenborough accepted a commission to travel the world in search of rare and elusive animals to add to London Zoo's collection. Filming his expeditions for the BBC television series Zoo Quest, he stayed with local tribes while trekking in search of giant anteaters in Guyana, Komodo dragons in Indonesia and armadillos in Paraguay. On his return, he recorded his experiences in this memoir, illustrated with black and white photographs, and published here with an introduction he added in 2017. Slightly off-mint.
A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond
Stephen O’Shea overcomes his fear of heights to crest the high Alpine passes and explore the history of the ‘fearsome, gargantuan intrusion of stone inconveniently located not at the edge but square in the middle of Europe’. Travelling west to east, from Lake Geneva to Trieste, he tells the stories of the armies, Crusaders, pilgrims and traders who have crossed the mountains; how the Alps inspired the Romantics, mountaineers and engineers; and how its 1,599 peaks have divided Europe’s languages, cuisine, culture, religion and history. American-cut pages
Painters, Ploughmen and Places
This blend of history, nature writing and memoir examines how people have responded to the land from the 18th century to the present day, including the Romantic poets’ fascination with the Lake District, and the more practical considerations of the agricultural improvers. Anna Pavord celebrates the beauty of the British landscape, considers how it has affected and inspired its inhabitants, and explores the ways in which a sense of place can help to define cultural identity.
A Vision of Countryside
From high moorland to shingled coast, the nature blogger Jan Wiltshire explores the landscape and wildlife of her home county. Detailed photographs capture rugged fells and wind-blasted trees, rare orchids, redstarts and skylarks, a cuckoo on Scout Scar, and the scarce natterjack toad in the Duddon Estuary, while the accompanying text inspires us to engage with, value and preserve the natural world.
The Enlightenment's Natural Historian
An outstanding artist and natural historian, James Sowerby (1757–1822) was unusual in being his own researcher, writer, illustrator and publisher – and in being an artisan. This first full biography of Sowerby illuminates his contemporary world of natural scientists and is illustrated with his very fine engravings, including works from the great Flora Graeca; from Exotic Botany, which featured specimens sent from places as far-flung as Australia, Nepal and the Caribbean; and from books on fungi, fossils and minerals.
Walking the Himalayas
For six months, Wood and his guides trekked along the foothills of the Himalayas, through Afghanistan, Kashmir and Nepal. His account of the 1,700-mile journey explores the region’s history, politics and the lives of its people, including yak-herders, separatist fighters, Buddhist monks and blood-drinking shamans. Off-mint.
The Art of the First Fleet
Images of Nature
With no official naturalist travelling with the First Fleet, it was landscape artist turned convict Thomas Watling who produced many of the watercolours and drawings in this collection. Depicting indigenous people as well as the local flora and fauna, the images offer a detailed record of the undeveloped Sydney Cove.
The Natural History of Selborne
Gilbert White (1720–1798) compiled this famous book from his letters to two other naturalists, a common way of writing scientific works at the time. What was so original and appealing about White’s natural history was its personal, even poetic approach, using all the senses to observe nature. The book has never been out of print since it first appeared in 1789; this attractive In Arcadia edition presents the original text with later woodcuts by Claire Oldham.
Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins
First Encounters with the Exotic
On a trip to the East Indies in 1655 Edward Terry noted the many uses of the coconut tree, with which one could 'build and fit and furnish and victual a small ship to sea'. This volume collects such reports of European explorers and naturalists reacting for the first time to previously unknown people, flora and fauna.
Earth to Earth
A Natural History of Churchyards
As protected sacred places, churchyards provide a tranquil environment in which wild plants and animals can thrive even when their nearby natural habitats have been destroyed. With photographs, newly commissioned drawings and passages from literature, Professor Buczacki celebrates this abundance of nature among the headstones, exploring the long history of our churchyards and describing the species most commonly found there, from mighty ancient yews to woodlice (nicknamed ‘church pigs’), graveyard beetles and lichens. Foreword by Lord Harries.
Things That Are
Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals
Amy Leach’s debut collection of creative non-fiction displays a remarkable fusion of enchanting poetic language, quirky humour and factual information relating to the natural world and our communion with it. From lilies and peas, frogs and beavers to the moon, constellations and exploding stars, each of these 26 short pieces is filled with what Olivia Laing has called a ‘tumultuous, incantatory rejoicing in the astonishing multiplicity of the Earth’.
The Natural Heritage of the World
The Most Beautiful National Parks, Protected Areas and Biosphere Reserves on Earth
The world’s wild places offer a refuge for endangered species, an information bank for scientists, and a priceless gift to the human spirit. Illustrated with colour photographs, this book explores all 229 areas of natural beauty on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, from Lapland’s Arctic wastes to the Amazon rainforests, from the Great Barrier Reef to the reserves of East Africa, and from the primeval beech forests of the Carpathians to the natural parks of North America.
Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature
In this great survey of animals and their symbolism, Boria Sax has abandoned biological classification in favour of tradition, linking the animals not only to their natural habitat and habits, but also to human cultural values and practices. The resulting categories range from almost human (apes, monkeys, bears, beavers, porcupines and pigs), through tricksters, musicians, man’s best friends, beasts of burden and tough guys to divinities (owls, eagles, doves and, remarkably, the rhinoceros).
Secret Nature of Devon
Devon is a large county with a climate ranging from the subtropical to the subarctic across the diverse habitats of high moorland, woodland, pasture, estuary and seashore. This comprehensive introduction and identification guide to the nature and wildlife of Devon provides details of its bird, animal and plant life, and offers information about key wildlife locations and nature reserves in the county.
The English Meadow
A Portrait of Country Life
Modern farming almost eliminated meadows from our countryside but these ‘beautiful, therapeutic reservoirs of a unique eco-system’ are now gradually returning. Drawing on the author’s experience of creating and managing a flower meadow, this book surveys different meadow types and the tools, crafts, buildings and wildlife associated with them; it also shows how churchyards, rooftops and roadside verges are helping the resurgence of wild grasses and flowers. Appendices list notable English meadows, rural museums and conservation organizations. Slightly off-mint.
The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Natural World
From 'How did the Earth form?' to 'Human behaviour and saving the planet', the 70 chapters in this colourful survey of natural history draw on the expertise of more than 60 scientists to give concise, lucid explanations of concepts and phenomena as diverse as selfish-gene theory, the eye, asteroid and comet impacts and flu pandemics. The book is arranged in sections on origins, the Earth, evolution, biogeography and environments, plants and animals, animal behaviour and global warming and the future.
A Secret Life of London's Waterways
Travelling across London by canal boat, from Walthamstow Marsh to the suburbs of Uxbridge, Helen Babbs witnessed abundant wildlife, and the impact of seasonal changes and developers on the city’s landscapes. In this blend of nature writing, social observation and memoir she recalls the practical challenges of her year-long journey, as well as the unusual perspective it offered her, to create a unique portrait of the capital’s history, politics and people.