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Woodlands Awards 2019: Woodland Books of the Year
'The oak is the wooden tie between heaven and earth. It is the lynch pin of the British landscape.'
The oak is our most beloved and most common tree. It has roots that stretch back to all the old European cultures but Britain has more ancient oaks than all the other European countries put together. More than half the ancient oaks in the world are in Britain.
Many of our ancestors - the Angles, the Saxons, the Norse - came to the British Isles in longships made of oak. For centuries the oak touched every part of a Briton's life - from cradle to coffin It was oak that made the 'wooden walls' of Nelson's navy, and the navy that allowed Britain to rule the world. Even in the digital Apple age, the real oak has resonance - the word speaks of fortitude, antiquity, pastoralism.
The Glorious Life of the Oak explores our long relationship with this iconic tree; it considers the life-cycle of the oak, the flora and fauna that depend on the oak, the oak as medicine, food and drink, where Britain's mightiest oaks can be found, and it tells of oak stories from folklore, myth and legend.
A beautiful object and a very British story written with real lyricism - some of the finest sentences I've read.
Lewis-Stempel is one of the best of the new generation of nature writers, an oak himself in that particular corner of the literary forest. As a working farmer, from a long line of Herefordshire farmers, he has daily exposure to his source material. In books such as Meadowland, The Running Hare and, most recently, The Wood, he has distilled his knowledge and his enthusiasm into a style that is as rich and earthy as its subject.
Our greatest nature writer
A lively little book
The author of The Private Life of an English Field looks for ‘restorative reads’ after long, chilly days working his land. From a period Parisian thriller to nature-led poetry, here’s what's been on his bedside table in 2019.
Woodston hop farm is where nature writer John Lewis-Stempel's grandfather was farm manager, and his mother and her sisters grew up. It's a typical English farm, and now John is writing its biography, from the beginning of time. Read on for an exclusive excerpt from the manuscript.
The Running Hare follows 'farm boy turned writer' John Lewis-Stempel's efforts to transform a chemically-coshed field into a haven for England’s vanishing wildlife. Here, John explains what inspired him to undertake this endeavour…