Acclaimed nature writer Patrick Barkham's anthology brings together the very best nature writing from every corner of the archipelago.
From Thomas Hardy's idyllic 'Wessex' to Nan Shepherd's fiercely beautiful Cairngorm mountains, the British landscape has been imagined and reimagined through our literature for as long as we can remember. Literature of the land has become part of our collective identity, seeped into our stories, and shaped the way we think about a place.
The chosen pieces in this anthology celebrate our landscape in all its rich diversity, yet also touch on some of the issues facing the natural world today. Arranged in themes – from woods to birds and from childhood to future nature – The Wild Isles includes extracts from much-loved classics alongside passages by some of our finest contemporary writers such as Robert Macfarlane and Helen Macdonald. They are joined by new pieces from writers often underrepresented in nature writing. It is only in the twenty-first century that nature writing by women has begun being widely published, and only in the last decade that black, Asian, and minority ethnic authors are being published in this genre. Barkham's belief that it is vital that we are helped to see our landscapes through new eyes, and in new ways, whilst still celebrating long-loved classics too, makes the collection exceptional.
These voices from the past and present will bring wonder as they journey around our fields, mountains and coastlines, exploring, describing and celebrating our landscapes in all their rich diversity.
Patrick Barkham is a natural history writer for the Guardian, and is one of a generation of British authors who have revitalized British nature writing. His books include The Butterfly Isles, Badgerlands, Islander, Coastlines and Wild Child, and he has been shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Wainwright Prize. He is currently writing the biography of acclaimed naturalist Roger Deakin. He lives in Norfolk with his family.