My Christmas has been greatly cheered by reading Roger Deakin’s Wildwood: A Journey through Trees, as recommended by one of my readers (thank you, Simon). I feel I should have known about Deakin: an extraordinarily eloquent and passionate writer about natural life, who as a schoolboy at Haberdashers’ Aske’s first went on expeditions to the New Forest to make detailed records of its flora and fauna. He read English at Cambridge, where he was a pupil of Kingsley Amis, and his book is peppered with literary references: Gerard Manley Hopkins; Konrad Lorenz; Charles Waterton, the author of Wanderings in South America; Nabokov, who was an entomologist as well as a novelist, working at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology; William Cobbett, of course; and John Ruskin. But what is impressive about the book is not the depth of his reading, but the sense of independent thinking and endless curiosity about the natural world.
11 thoughts on “Roger Deakin (1)”
Simon has done you a real service : Deakin was a remarkable man and writer, and there are several other excellent books to which you can now look forward. And then there is his protege, Robert Macfarlane, with whom he wrote books (try THE OLD WAYS), and who continues to keep Deakin’s writings and perspectives alive. A good project for the New Year !
Dear Mark, Is there anything you don’t know about and haven’t read ? Charles
A further thought : try his best -known book, WATERLOG, and then WALNUT TREE FARM which, since it is, in effect, a diary of his year, is not unlike your own Blog.
Yes, they’re on order. Charles
You’ve got some great reading ahead of you Charles – can I mention Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain too, Macfarlane cites it as an inspiration.
Thank you. I’ve only got a week ! Charles
Many thanks to all of you for these reading recommendations! I’ve gone crazy on Alibris!
Dear Ivan, I hope you enjoy Wildwood. He writes particularly well about the materiality of objects eg. the pencil (p.29), the cricket bat (pp.100-104) and, more unexpectedly, the dashboards of Jaguar motor cars (pp.138-146). Charles
Charles, Mariella Frostrup read an extract from Robert MacFarlane’s ‘The Old Ways’ at the RA Carol Service last year (which I chose for her) and the connection with Robert and my choice of the reading was that Robert was one of my son’s tutor’s at Cambridge, all discovered through our reading of Roger Deakin’s books…
Your son was very lucky to have been taught by Macfarlane whose work I do know and admire. Charles
I read Wildwood shortly after my father died and found it a wonderful solace. Like you I think 2016 has been a bummer of a year and have taken comfort, this time, from reading Meadowlands by John Lewis-Sempler. The book follows the changing seasons in a few acres of water meadow on Lewis-Sempler’s farm in Herefordshire and is full of his personal observations of the plants, birds and animals inhabiting this plot – including his beloved cows. Like Wildwood it contains a liberal smattering of quotes from other nature writing in both poetry and prose but his erudition never feels tacked on – it is integral. So when you run out of Deakin, I beg you to try Meadowlands!