Trees can evoke powerful feelings. For Henry David Thoreau, the woods are places beyond civilisation; for Ursula Le Guin and J. R. R. Tolkien, they are loaded with otherworldly potential; and for those fleeing captivity, they can provide a welcome sanctuary. Woods can strike fear. They can inspire wonder. They can be lovely, dark and deep.
John Miller builds upon the ecological arguments for saving forests to raise the compelling question of their cultural value, with beautiful illustrations from the British Library's unparalleled collections of books and manuscripts. The Heart of the Forest roams freely across literature and culture from around the world, weaving in personal memoir, to explore why woods matter to us. In the midst of a climate crisis, there is hope to be found in our deeply emotional connection to trees, and the instinct it awakens in us to value and protect them.
John Miller is a Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of Sheffield and editor of the classic fiction collection Weird Woods: Tales from the Haunted Forests of Britain, published by the British Library in 2020.