Interview

The story behind The Birds and the Bees

We speak to editor Charlotte Knight about the new Vintage Classics nature series  


Hear the words 'classic nature writing' and names like Thoreau and Emerson might come to mind - writing from days when wild really meant wild, before we swapped the great outdoors with modern, indoor living.

This is what editor Charlotte Knight thought before she came to realise that, in her words, there's something 'quite special about the nature writing of the past decade or so.' Vintage Classics' new series The Birds and the Bees is a beautiful collection of such writing. Feast your eyes on the stunning covers designed by Scottish studio Timorous Beasties and read what Knight told us about putting together this classic, yet thoroughly modern, collection of books inspired by the natural world.
 


The popularity of H is for Hawk has helped spark a resurgence in nature books. Why does nature writing continue to capture people's imaginations?

It might be the result of a predominantly urban and suburban audience attempting to reconnect with nature. Perhaps the beauty of the countryside provides particularly fertile ground for literary expression.

Nature writing can take you on journeys around the globe, but my hunch is that it is the intimacy of observing – whether its birds, bees or an entire landscape – that's so engaging and inspiring.


Nature writing tends to be non-fiction. Can you tell us why you decided to include a poetry collection in the series?

Bee Journal takes the form of poetry, but it doesn't really sit apart [from the other non-fiction books] in any other significant way. On one level it’s simply a journal describing the life of a hive and the experience of keeping bees. My hope is that by including it, non-poetry readers might be inspired to give it a whirl.

Sean Borodale, the author, has also written a new introduction which gives a bit of backstory to both the experience of beekeeping and the experience of writing poems about it, standing there in a field, beside a hive, making jottings.


Tell us about the covers.

We knew we wanted to ask Timorous Beasties very early on. Their designs, not to mention their name, seemed a perfect match. Much of their work is inspired by the natural world. But it's not just pretty - it has an irreverent edge.

See how the design developed over at CMYK, the Vintage Design team’s blog.

Discover the books...

 

H is for Hawk

As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. Years later, when her father died, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk...

Crow Country

Journeying across Britain, through spectacular failures, magical successes and epiphanies, Mark Cocker uncovers the mysteries of the inner lives of crows...

A Sting in the Tale

The short-haired bumblebee was driven to extinction in Britain by intensive farming practices. Dave Goulson wants to reintroduce them to their native land...

The Running Sky

Tim Dee maps his encounters tracking birds around the world, from sparrows to electrically coloured hummingbirds in California...

Bee Journal

Bee Journal is a poem-journal of beekeeping that chronicles the life of the hive. It observes the living architecture of the comb, its flights, flowers, lives and deaths...

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