The British people have a unique relationship with the fox; no other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so deeply woven into our culture over the centuries. But as well as being the most ubiquitous of British animals, it is also the least understood.
In Foxes Unearthed, Lucy Jones investigates the truth about foxes in a media landscape that often carries complex agendas, holding perceived wisdom and myths up to the microscope of modern science. There is a vivid story to be told, exploring the cultural history alongside the modern-day fables that we tell ourselves about this curious animal. Using extensive archival research to explore historical perceptions of the fox in folklore, literature and social history, Lucy also travels the length of Britain to find out first-hand why the animal is so ambiguously perceived in modern society: one family might feed the foxes in their backyard while another might pay to have them shot.
This beautifully designed, compelling narrative adds a depth to the often contentious debate on foxes, asking what the British attitudes towards the Red Fox say about us – and, ultimately, our wider relationship with the natural world.
Lucy Jones is a nature writer based in London. She was Deputy Editor at NME.com until April 2015 and worked at the Daily Telegraph as Assistant Comment Editor, Editor of the Culture Blog and on the News desk. Other bylines include TIME, BBC Earth, BBC Wildlife, the Guardian, New Statesman, The Word (RIP), CBC, The Spectator, The Long + Short and commentating on BBC Radio 4 (Woman's Hour, Today), BBC World Service, 6 Music, Radio 1, VICE, Channel 5 and Channel 4. She runs the Wildlife Daily blog, featuring wildlife, nature and environment news from around the world.
"Engaging and hugely enjoyable"
– Tom Holland, Times Literary Supplement
"Brave, bold and honest – finally the truth about foxes"
– Chris Packham, broadcaster and naturalist
"A sensitive and illuminating investigation [...] a beautiful book that will change the way you think about the fox"
– Rob Cowen, author of Common Ground
"Jones writes with real feeling about the hold of foxes on the human imagination, and her own deep affection for the beguiling creatures"
– Jane Shilling, Daily Mail
"The fox has for centuries been held as the incarnation of such unlovely traits as deviousness, cunning and cruelty. [...] However, the characteristic that emerges most strongly from the nature writer Lucy Jones's book about Vulpes vulpes is its ambiguity. [...] [An] intriguing compendium of fox lore."
– Michael Prodger, The Times
"Jones's history of our complex relationship with the fox is revealing [...] to discover there was an 18th-century sport of 'fox tossing' almost makes this worth the purchase alone"
– John Lewis-Stempel, The Times Books of the Year 2016
"A fantastic tour of the fox and us – Lucy Jones takes an intelligent, measured and humane look at the intimate, contradictory and occasionally crazy relationship between Homo sapiens and Vulpes vulpes"
– Patrick Barkham, author of Badgerlands and The Butterfly Isles
"A foxy little book, offering a rich brew of nature and history and culture. An exemplary instance of fine research leading to balance and sanity on a subject usually lacking in either. Deeply enjoyable and informative"
– Sara Maitland, author of Gossip from the Forest: The Tangled Roots of Our Forests and Fairytales
"Stunning [...] if you like to read non-fiction, love foxes and/or want to reconnect with mother nature, there aren't many better books on the market [...] This is a beautiful book"
"Fascinating [...] [a] well-balanced exploration of our tempestuous relationship"
– Country Life
"Beautifully written and signals a conspicuous new talent [...] She traces the place of the fox in our culture over many centuries"
– Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph
"A fascinating discussion of the history of our attitude to the fox [...] it will almost certainly teach you something new"
– The Spectator
"This well-researched, engaging account of their lives, behaviour and cultural impact from fox-loving journalist Jones is filled with interesting information and evocative description"
– Top 20 Holiday Reads, i-newspaper
"A commendably impartial book [...] expresses [Jones's] sincere love of the countryside and the animals in it"
– Patrick Scrivenor, Literary Review
"Foxes Unearthed separates fact from fiction, studying the evolution of foxes in our stories and the cold hard facts [...] Whether you're fascinated by foxes, wild for wildlife or completely new to the realm of non-fiction, I recommend picking up this book! I've come away from Foxes Unearthed feeling like I've really learned something new"
"Lucy Jones' investigative study explores the romantic myth and harsh reality of the fox with the unflinching rigour of a true journalist and heart of a poet"
– Benjamin Myers, author of Beastings and Pig Iron
"A page turner [and] a timely examination of one of our more iconic animals [...] A well balanced, well researched book [...] it's also a pleasure to read"
"A thorough and captivating history of our relationship with the fox. It is satisfying that a book which conveys an uncomplicated delight in the natural world [...] simultaneously sends such a sobering message"
– Diva Harris, Caught by the River
"I loved the readability of the book, combining fact with fiction, folklore and magic with cold hard facts, but always, what shines through is the author's commitment to telling it like it is, with no superfluous waffle, not overly fanciful, just a really interesting look at the role foxes have in our rural and urban environments. The detail is good, the author's opinions are clearly expressed and throughout the book are intelligent observations from specialist contributors which help to give the book an overall balanced view."
"Lucy Jones' book packs a serious and intelligent punch. Her meticulous research takes her back into Indo-European literature and contemporary linguistic analysis, and her journalist's nose takes her out into the countryside with hunters and saboteurs alike."
– Richard Littledale, The Preacher's Blog
"Jones is thorough in her research and captivating in her writing style [...] Foxes Unearthed is a refreshingly honest and impartial account of our changing relationship with foxes in the British Isles"
– Ben Eagle, thinkingcountry.com
"Thought-provoking and entertaining"
"Truly magnificent [...] it's striking and beautiful [...] an absolutely fascinating read"
– The Quiet Knitter
"A subtle, richly layered and deeply satisfying read, full of energy"
– Kate Blincoe, Running Wild blog
"You're unlikely to come across a more gorgeous book this year"
"A real page turner – packed full of fascinating information conveyed with clear, clever prose"
"Enchanting [...] very thought-provoking and well researched"
– Emma Caton, TheWildlifeChannel.co.uk
"A fascinating read"
"Genuinely compelling; one truly does not wish to put it down [...] seek out and purchase a copy to discover just how much enlightening information as well as reading enjoyment its pages contain"
– The Well-read Naturalist
"A distinctly human story [...] Through spending time with those who would lay down their lives for a fox and those who range from appearing non-plussed to hell-bent on bloody extermination, Jones brilliantly (and often bravely) captures two uniquely British subcultures. Being buried in these opposed worlds, enables Jones to fuse her talent for research with journalistic reporting. [...] It is also worth mentioning Jones' refreshing honesty"
– Matt Gaw, journalist and columnist