Books

A Brush With Nature

Richard Mabey

Described as 'Britain's greatest living nature writer', Richard Mabey has revealed his passion for the natural world in eloquent stories for BBC Wildlife Magazine. This volume features his favourite pieces and presents a fascinating and inspiring view of the changing natural landscape in which we live.

Peppered throughout with references to the heritage of nature writing, and great writers from Richard Jefferies and John Clare to Roger Deakin and Robert MacFarlane, A Brush With Nature is part memoir, part nature journal, part social history, giving us a unique insight into a nature lover's reflections over a quarter of a century.

The Ash and The Beech

Richard Mabey

From ash die-back to the Great Storm of 1987 to Dutch elm disease, our much-loved woodlands seem to be under constant threat from a procession of natural challenges. Just when we need trees most, to help combat global warming and to provide places of retreat for us and our wildlife, they seem at greatest peril. But these dangers force us to reconsider the narrative we construct about trees and the roles we press on them.

In this now classic book, Richard Mabey looks at how, for more than a thousand years, we have appropriated and humanised trees, turning them into arboreal pets, status symbols, expressions of fashionable beauty - anything rather than allow them lives of their own. And in the poetic and provocative style he has made his signature, Mabey argues that respecting trees' independence and ancient powers of survival may be the wisest response to their current crises.

Originally published with the title Beechcombings, this updated edition includes a new foreword and afterword by the author.

Fencing Paradise

Richard Mabey

In this remarkable journal of visits to Eden, Mabey transports his reader from Cornwall to the Mediterranean to the Tropics, from Old World to New, from present to personal memory, to new perspectives on our collective artistic and emotional past. Sensuous and evocative, exquisitely written, his new book challenges the reader to look differently at the world, and our place in the landscape. At the same time, Mabey is controversial in his views about what we mean by buzz words like 'renewable', or 'sustainable', and he is highly provocative in his final response to the Eden Project itself.

Wild Cooking

Richard Mabey

Richard Mabey's sparky, offbeat book is about canny and inventive making-do, or 'busking in the kitchen'. Whether creating a cassoulet which uses English ingredients, making bread from chestnuts or slow-cooking a Peking duck in front of an ancient fan heater, he encourages us to be daring and imaginative in our cooking and our approach to food.

Although it contains wonderful, mouth-watering recipes like broad bean hummus, pumpkin soup and fillet-steak hearts this is more than a recipe book - it is a guide to a whole new way of thinking that embraces scrumping, celebrates picnics, and revels in saving energy wherever it can, whether that's by one-pot feasts or cooling on car radiators. After all, if you care about food 'life's too short not to stuff a mushroom'.

Previously published in hardback as The Full English Cassoulet.

The Full English Cassoulet

Richard Mabey

Richard Mabey began experimenting with cooking as soon as he was big enough to clamber to the cupboard where the powdered chocolate was kept. At scout camp he learned how to cook a Sussex Pond Pudding in a billy-can, and thirty years ago he permanently broadened the nation's palate with his guide to edible wild plants, Food For Free. His new book is a joyous exploration of local ingredients, broadening your horizons by travelling, vernacular heritage, and making use of everything except, as the saying goes, 'the pig's squeal'.
It includes:
*Collecting Corsican chestnut receipes and American mushroom ideas, and meditating on what a forest-food culture would have been like;
* Cooking eggs in nothing but the sun;
* Making bread the prehistoric way - with old beer;
* Exploring the outer limits of apple cusine (i.e. the outer limit is making leather out of apples);
* 'Cooking against the grain' - if we didn't have access to wheat, what could we make with nuts?
* How to deal with gluts - those autumn mountains of beans and courgettes;
* Making-do the wartime way - canny tricks his mother taught him; re-introducing his father's passion for offals.

Nature Cure

Richard Mabey

In the last year of the old millennium, Richard Mabey, Britain's foremost nature writer, fell into a severe depression. The natural world – which since childhood had been a source of joy and inspiration for him – became meaningless.

Then, cared for by friends, he moved to East Anglia and he started to write again. Having left the cosseting woods of the Chiltern hills for the open flatlands of Norfolk, Richard Mabey found exhilaration in discovering a whole new landscape and gained fresh insights into our place in nature.

Structured as intricately as a novel, a joy to read, truthful, exquisite and questing, Nature Cure is a book of hope, not just for individuals, but for our species.

Birds Britannica

Mark Cocker (and others)

The British love their birds, which are inextricably entwined with every aspect of their island life. British customs, more than 1,000 years of English literature, the very fabric of society, even the landscape itself, have all been enhanced by the presence of birds. Now, at last, here is a book which pays tribute to the remarkable relationship forged between a nation and its most treasured national heritage.

Birds Britannica is neither an identification guide nor a behavioural study (though both these subjects enter its field), it concentrates on our social history and on the cultural links between humans and birds. It includes observations and experiences from more than 1,000 naturalists and bird lovers. These contributions from the public touch on aviation ecology; the lore and language of birds; their myths, the art and literature they have inspired; birds as food; and the crucial role they play in our sense of place and the changing seasons.

The book has taken eight years to research and write, and has been assembled by a team which includes some of the finest writers and image-makers of British wildlife. On one level, it is a remarkable collection of humorous stories, field observations and tales of joy, wonder and occasional woe; on another, it is a nationwide chronicle. Scholarly and wide-ranging, a mix of the traditional and the contemporary, Birds Britannica is a comprehensive record of birdlife in the early years of the twenty-first century.

Selected Writings 1974-1999

Richard Mabey

Selected Writings includes the bext of Richard Mabey's important and wide-ranging journalism, from nature diaries to writings on travel and environmental art, to full-blown investigations of forestry, farmi ng and developmental scandals. We meet flamingos in the Camargue flamenco singers in Extremaduran cork-oak forest; the sculptor David Nash's 'Wooden Boulder' and the biologist James Lovelock's theory of Gaia; the grim environmental imagery of the Gulf War and the inspiration of the recovery of our woodland from the devastation of the great storms of 1987 and 1990: an archetypal village in Middle England, and the teeming cosmopolitan wildlife of London's East End. Through the many disparate pieces run the common threads of creativity and autonomy of nature, the importance of the sense of locality, and our thraldom to the seasons. And as the national debate about the future of the coutnryside moves ever more centre stage, so the themes which have been explored in Mabey's writings take on a new relevance.

Flora Britannica

Richard Mabey

Flora Britannica covers the native and naturalised plants of England, Scotland and Wales, and, while full of fascinating history, is topical and modern. Indeed, Flora Britannica is the definitive contemporary flora, an encyclopaedia of living folklore, a register – a sort of Domesday Book.


It is unique in that it is not a botanical flora but a cultural one – an account of the role of wild plants in social life, arts, custom and landscape. It is also unique in that information has been supplied by the people themselves. Five years of intensive original research have aroused popular interest and ‘grassroots’ involvement on an exceptional scale. People all over Britain – both rural and urban – have been encouraged to record and celebrate the cultural dimensions of their own flora, and to send their memories and anecdotes, observations and regional knowledge to Flora Britannica.


The result is a nationwide record of the popular culture, domestic uses and social meanings of our wild plants. It is both useful and delightful – superbly written by one of the most outstanding English authors on natural history and illustrated with nearly 500 photographs. Including trees and ferns, it covers 1,000 species, many of them in considerable detail. A new flora for the people, Flora Britannica is a testimony to the continuing relationship between nature and human beings, and a celebration that the seasons and the landscape, local character and identity, still matter in Britain.

Biography

Richard Mabey is 'Britain's greatest living nature writer' (The Times) and the force behind the Britannica series. Among his acclaimed publications are Food for FreeGilbert White (Whitbread Biography of the Year) Nature CureBeechcombings andFlora Britannica, which won the British Book Awards' Illustrated Book of the Year and the Botanical Society of the British Isles' President's Award. He also collaborated with Mark Cocker on Birds Britannica.