This is Jacquetta Hawkes' seminal work, originally written in 1951, and a classic piece of British Nature writing. It is the history of the shaping of Britain and its people from the first, lifeless, Pre-Cambrian rocks to the days of the ice-cream carton and the hydrogen bomb.
First, as an archaeologist and geologist, Hawkes paints a picture of the creation of Britain from the very first forming of the earth's crust, through periods marked by lifeless worlds of rock, water and air, to the first emergence of life that senses its surroundings. The worms and trilobites mark the beginning of the story of life that evolves through the great reptiles, dinosaurs and finally humans.
This is science writing at its very best. Engrossing stories, curious facts and powerful narrative combine under the umbrella of poetic writing and unadulterated passion for the subject. Widely lauded on its publication, this is an exposition of complex science in a way that is not just comprehensible, but also moving.
"There is a weird beauty in this prophetic book. Information it provides, curious facts, agreeable stories, passages of literary power, and many excellent digressions and asides. But all these would just compose a learned and a clever book. A Land is something more than just that: it is written with a passion of love and hate."
"Written with vision, with passion and with style. Her book helps us to understand both the land on which we live and the life we live on it. An exposition of two rather specialized sciences is made a moving and imaginative experience."
- Times Literary Supplement
"Feeling and imagination, allied with the scientist's grasp of material reality, have enable the author to write a powerful and distinguished book that is also a piece of fine literature."
- Birmingham Mail
"The naturalist and the poet combine in the perfecting of the pictures which draw is unto the writer's reveries."
- The Times
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Jacquetta Hawkes was a British archaeologist who is best known for her seminal book A Land, originally published in 1951. She was a prolific writer predominantly interested in the lives of the peoples discovered by archaeological excavations. Her publications include The World of the Past (1963) and The Shell Guide to British Archaeology (1986). She co-authored a number of books with both her first husband, Christopher Hawkes – Prehistoric Britain (1943) – and her second husband, the prominent novelist, playwright and broadcaster J. B. Priestley – Dragon's Mouth (1952) and Journey Down a Rainbow (1955).