Why do we speak so much of nature today when there is so little of it left? Prompted by this question, this study offers the first full-length exploration of modern British nature writing, from the late eighteenth century to the present. Focusing on non-fictional prose writing, the book supplies new readings of classic texts by Romantic, Victorian and Contemporary authors, situating these within the context of an enduringly popular genre. Nature writing is still widely considered fundamentally celebratory or escapist, yet it is also very much in tune with the conflicts of a natural world under threat. The book's five authors connect these conflicts to the triple historical crisis of the environment; of representation; and of modern dissociated sensibility. This book offers an informed critical approach to modern British nature writing for specialist readers, as well as a valuable guide for general readers concerned by an increasingly diminished natural world.
1. Chapter One
2. Chapter Two
3. Chapter Three
4. Chapter Four
Afterword: Shades of White
Will Abberley is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Sussex. His previous monographs are English Fiction and the Evolution of Language, 1850–1914 (2015) and Mimicry and Display in Victorian Culture (2020). He is currently writing a book on emotions and authority in Victorian natural history literature.
Christina Alt is a Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature at the University of St Andrews. Her research focuses on early twentieth-century exchanges between literature and science, with particular emphases on ecology, ethology, and climatology. Her current research examines literary engagements with the newly formalised discipline of ecology in the modernist period.
David Higgins is a Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on Romantic-period literature and, more recently, the cultural history of environmental catastrophe. His current research investigates the philosophical genealogy of contemporary climate change discourse.
Graham Huggan is a Professor of English at the University of Leeds. His research straddles three fields: postcolonial studies, tourism studies, and environmental humanities, all of which are brought together in his most recent book, Colonialism, Culture, Whales: The Cetacean Quartet (2018).
Pippa Marland is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Bristol. Her project 'The Pen and the Plough' explores the representation of farming in British nature writing. She has published widely on eco-poetry and creative non-fiction and is the author of Ecocriticism and the Island (forthcoming).