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The Northamptonshire poet John Clare (1793-1864) knew and named more than 400 plant species in his poetry and prose, an 'astonishing tally', as Molly Mahood points out in her study of 'The Poet as Botanist'. Nor are these merely incidental mentions. Clare has been granted the very impressive total of more than 40 first county records for plants, as well as 65 for birds.
Professor Mahood now brings to bear her immense experience as a scholar and a writer to describe and discuss Clare's mention of plants, in a book that is both a wonderful series of concise essays and an invaluable reference source for lovers of Clare, poetry, flowers, wildlife and the natural world. Ordered according to the latest system of classification, A John Clare Flora is fully indexed by both scientific and common names, including those used by Clare, so that every reference to plants in his writings may easily be found. The entries are also tied to the best editions of Clare's poetry and prose.
A John Clare Flora is, as Richard Mabey notes in his insightful foreword, a "remarkable volume [...] which somehow contrives to be both magisterial and intimate", as well as providing "a manifesto' for those interested in preserving the rich variety of plant-life in this country".
M. M. Mahood is Professor Emeritus at the University of Kent.