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Jeremy Harding: Erratic Weather

11 April 2013
... already begun to witness ‘plague winds of a diabolic aspect’ over the Lakes and recorded the ‘utterly hellish’ onset of night as a black pall lowered without the reassuring interval of dusk. RichardMabey stands admirably within this tradition, not only as a naturalist and writer on British flora and fauna, but as an expert on inner and outer weather: his Nature Cure (2005) records a bout of ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson

19 February 2015
Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... her that success, coming so late, was determined by her childhood recollections rather than her ‘proper’ fiction. What she dreamed of escaping to is hard to say. One of the problems faced by RichardMabey in his biography of Thompson, Dreams of the Good Life, is that Lark Rise to Candleford and its sequel, Heatherley, which wasn’t published until 1979, are almost the only sources we have. By ...
22 January 1987
The History of the Countryside 
by Oliver Rackham.
Dent, 445 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 460 04449 4
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Gilbert White: A Biography of the Author of the ‘Natural History of Selborne’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Century, 239 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7126 1232 7
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The Journals of Gilbert White 1751-1773: Vol. 1 
edited by Francesca Greenoak.
Century, 531 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7126 1294 7
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An Account of the Foxglove and its Medical Uses 1785-1985 
by J.K. Aronson.
Oxford, 399 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 19 261501 7
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The Oxford Dictionary of Natural History 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Oxford, 688 pp., £20, January 1986, 0 19 217720 6
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... till now has been by one of his descendants, and that was essentially a work of piety in the standard ‘life and letters’ mode. There has been no recapture in the round of the man himself. Now RichardMabey has repaired this deficiency. He has been back to such records as survive (and there are more of these, it appears, than we have been accustomed to suppose); he has read, or read afresh ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane

23 September 2015
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... valuable, less significant. Most of the chapters are a very personal kind of literary criticism of books by writers such as Peter Davidson (The Idea of North), Nan Shepherd (The Living Mountain), Richard Jefferies (Nature near London), J.A. Baker (The Peregrine), Jacquetta Hawkes (A Land) and Roger Deakin (Waterlog). It’s interesting that all these were connoisseurs of nature rather than workers ...

Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow

29 November 2007
by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard​ Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... finds for millennia. Unfortunately, this is an area as rich in hypothesis as it is short on proof. Beechcombings is a very different book from Woodlands, and rather suffers from the comparison. RichardMabey’s intention is to use a series of ‘discursive essays’ to build up ‘a brief history of the narratives we’ve constructed about trees over the past thousand years to make them accessible ...


Jeremy Harding: Ash Dieback

6 December 2012
... in the air, except perhaps a feeling of optimism. Rackham, who has been to Denmark, is sure that the country’s ‘90 per cent’ losses reported by the press are too high. The naturalist and author RichardMabey believes that resistance in the Danish ash population is 5-10 per cent and probably higher in Lithuania. I noticed this upbeat tone too in Julian Roughton, chief executive of the Suffolk ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts

9 May 2019
k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... Suffolk spaces without really looking at them’. This was ‘mittelbrow miserablism’, Fisher continued, ‘an anachronistic, antiqued model of “good literature”’; he quoted the naturalist RichardMabey, who, like Fisher, had known and loved that coast for years. To read Sebald, according to Mabey, was to watch the belittlement of ‘a very close friend’.Fisher’s first book, Capitalist ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005

5 January 2006
... Marchmains. R. is not at the service but points out how shocked one would be by the reverse – a passionate atheist denying a dying or dead Catholic the consolations of religion. Coming away I see Richard Ingrams, swathed in a black anorak, trudging along the pavement. He has a brief word with Fr Cunningham, much as, one feels, Oxford dons used to have with the train driver at Paddington when he’d ...

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