In 1987, the greatest English storm for three centuries laid flat fifteen million trees across southern England and devastated a nation of tree-lovers. The storm marked a turning point in our perception of trees and a dawning realisation that they have lives of their own, beyond the roles and images we press on them.
In Beechcombings Richard Mabey traces the long history of the beech tree throughout Europe, writing about the bluebells, orchids, fungi, deer and badgers associated with them, the narratives we tell about trees and the images we make of them. It is an engrossing, exciting, poetical and profound book that will stimulate debate about man's relationship with nature and enchant the reader.
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Wonderfully subversive, far-reaching and unsentimental - Observer
Richard Mabey is a man for all seasons, most regions and every kind of landscape - Financial Times
Beechcombings is a treasure trove of fact and anecdote linked to the beech tree... By the time you have reached the end of the book you will have accumulated an encyclopaedic knowledge of the uses and merits of different timbers and you will have an extensive list of locations to visit. A welcome present - Spectator
The latest book from the doyen of our nature writers employs a key critical concept of recent decades to explore how we really see the natural word - with fascinating results... a terrific combination of both natural and intellectual history, informed by penetrating insight - Independent
Like the woodlands itself, Beechcombings operates on many levels... Busting out is a leaf-storm of philosophical musings, journeys of mind and body, reflections and anecdotes that imprint the tree on human culture - Sunday Times
This is the book of range and ambitions that his many admirers hoped he would write. Refreshing, droll, politically alert, occasionally self-mocking, he has the enviable ability both to write historical overview and also to slip into the woods like a dryad, bringing us back to the trees themselves, their colours and lights and textures - Guardian
An elegant and heartfelt essay - at once eco-memoir, beech monograph and woodland policy manifesto - on mankind's changing relationship with trees - Sunday Telegraph
A characteristically rich and individual mix of history, natural science, folklore, poetry, politics and personal observation... Mabey's writing is a brilliant in its minutely observed detail as in its broad sweeps - Financial Times
It is not surprising that the most exceptional of plants should generate some of the most exceptional books. After Roger Deakin's lyrical valediction, A Journey through Trees, Richard Mabey has produced an equally resonant work devoted to a single species, the 'fascinatingly awkward' beech. In language as sinewy as Ted Hughes's poetry, Mabey provides a vivid close-up of a massive, pollarded example near Berkhamsted, known as the Queen Beech... 'Wild, unmanaged trees show us possibilities beyond our cultural tunnel-vision,' he writes. In this impressive and enjoyable work, Mabey does the same.' - Independent
As always, Mabey's thoughts make compelling reading... This is a book by a man who doesn't just know, but understands trees - Tree News
It's a scientific, historical, poetic account written in a quietly humorous, thoughtful style - Irish Times
He found his best form as a storyteller and interpreter of the dynamic nature of our native woodlands. - Reforesting Scotland
By this author
About the Author
Among Richard Mabey's acclaimed publications are Food for Free (his first book and never out of print), GilbertWhite (Whitbread Biography of the Year) and the ground-breaking bestseller Flora Britannica, which won the British Book Awards' Illustrated Book of the Year and the Botanical Society of the British Isles' President's Award and was runner-up for the BP Natural World Book Prize. He collaborated on Birds Britannica (which was his idea) and his most recent book, Nature Cure, described as 'A brilliant, candid and heartfelt memoir', had such wide appeal that it was shortlisted for no fewer than four prestigious prizes: the Whitbread Biography, the J.R. Ackerley for autobiography, Mind (for its investigation into depression) and the Ondaatje for the evocation of the spirit of place.
Richard Mabey was born and brought up among the beech woods of the Chilterns, and now lives in Norfolk.