This is a book about one man's encounter with an ancient tree, the Honywood Oak.
James Canton spent two years sitting with and studying the Honywood Oak. A colossus of a tree, it would have been a sapling when the Magna Carta was signed. Inevitably he needs to slow down in order to appreciate it fully, to tune in to its slower time frame, to connect with the ecosystem that lives around it, inside it and beneath it. He examines our long-standing dependency on oak trees, and how that has developed and morphed into myth and legend. We no longer build our houses and boats from them, use them to fuel our fires or grind their acorns into flour in times of famine; physically we don't need them in the same way now. Or do we?
The Oak Papers is a stunning, meditative and healing book about the lessons we can learn from the natural world, if only we slow down enough to listen.
Dr James Canton runs the Wild Writing MA at the University of Essex and has done since its inception in 2009. He is the author of Ancient Wonderings (2017) and Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013) which was inspired by his rural wandering in East Anglia. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Essex and reviews for the TLS, Caught by the River and Earthlines. Canton is a regular on television and radio and lectures frequently.
"This is a profound meditation on the human need for connection with nature, as one man seeks solace beneath the boughs of an ancient oak tree. The tree and its surrounds come to life in shimmering detail, and Canton's writing has an exquisite, somewhat dreamlike quality"
– Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life Of Trees
"James Canton knows so much, writes so well and understands so deeply about the true forest magic and the important place these trees have in it. Knowledge and joy"
– Sara Maitland