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The Chilterns: that great chalk enscarpment of southern England, studded with beechwood, intercut with motorways and the sprawling suburbs of London. This is where Richard Mabey grew up and spent most of his adult life. It was his laboratory, a place that has left an indelibe mark on his writing. But how did this landscape shape Britain's most popular nature writer? How has it influenced his understanding of the natural world?
Home Country is a memoir told on ridgeway and in beechwood, from the childhood dens built in the grounds of a derelict mansion and his dogged searches for lapwing nests, through his explorations in the fringes of outer London, to the rediscovery of his roots in the Chilterns when he became responsible for a 16-acre woodland of his own. Like Richard Mabey's Nature Cure (2005) and Beechcombings (2007), it is a journey defined by its proximity to nature. It is also a vision that does not suppose humans are masters, or even stewards of nature, but partners in a colourful and rowdy striving for life.
Richard Mabey is the godfather of contemporary nature writing and has authored some forty books, including Food for Free, the groundbreaking Flora Britannica and The Unofficial Countryside, Beechcombings, Weeds, and his wonderful memoir Nature Cure, which was shortlisted for three major literary awards. He writes for The Times, Guardian and Granta, contributes frequently to BBC radio, and has written a column in BBC Wildlife magazine since 1986. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by St. Andrews and Essex universities for his contributions to nature writing and was appointed to the Civil List in 2008 for services to literature. He is a Trustee of the arts and conservation charity Common Ground, Vice-President of the Open Spaces Society and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011. He lives in the Waveney Valley, Norfolk.
''Richard Mabey is a natural historian whose special gift is to observe the outward and visible world in such a way as to illuminate the inward and invisible one."
– Andrew Motion