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  • Published: 22 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448152582
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304


the private life of an English field

A love song to the land. A magical month by month observation through parted grass of the flora and fauna of a meadow.




What really goes on in the long grass?

Meadowland gives an unique and intimate account of an English meadow's life from January to December, together with its biography. In exquisite prose, John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons from cowslips in spring to the hay-cutting of summer and grazing in autumn, and includes the biographies of the animals that inhabit the grass and the soil beneath: the badger clan, the fox family, the rabbit warren,the skylark brood and the curlew pair, among others. Their births, lives, and deaths are stories that thread through the book from first page to last.

  • Published: 22 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448152582
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

About the author

John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel is a writer and farmer. His books include the Sunday Times bestsellers TheRunning Hare and The Wood. He is the only person to have won the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing twice, with Meadowland and Where Poppies Blow. In 2016 he was Magazine Columnist of the Year for his column in Country Life. He lives in Herefordshire with his wife and two children.

Also by John Lewis-Stempel

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Praise for Meadowland

This is a great book - a magnificent love letter to the natural world, full of wisdom and experience, written with wit, poetry and love. It is, in fact, one of the best five books I have ever had the privilege to read. I want to scream from the rooftops: buy it, give it, read it.

Tim Smit, Eden Project; Heligan

An intimate, month-by-month observation of the flora and fauna of an English meadow; its foxes, badgers, rabbits, skylarks, cowslips. It's written in exquisite prose.

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

Having grown up in rural Hertfordshire, I'm immediately drawn to this wonderful account of the seasons and found many connections with the wildlife in London's eight Royal Parks.

Sara Lom, Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Foundation

An wonderful, intimate recording of the passing months and seasons of an ancient meadow... It encourages us to cherish, to look and to experience nature more closely.

Buzz About Bees

Fascinating ... Books have been written about entire countries that contain a less interesting cast of characters than Lewis-Stempel's account of one field on the edge of Wales. Foxes, red kites and voles become as intricately shaded as characters in an HBO drama, the readers' sympathies swinging between them and their adversaries. Not every English meadow contains such a vast variety of wildlife as Lewis-Stempel's, and he's lucky to live somewhere so unspoilt, but his immense, patient powers of observation - along with a flair for the anthropomorphic - mean he is able to offer a portrait of animal life that's rare in its colour and drama. Lewis-Stempel's eye for detail and the poetic imagery of sentences such as "Behind me the river shouts with the abandon of a football crowd" or "Someone has stirred the clouds into milk pudding" are reminiscent of the late, brilliant Roger Deakin... There is barely a creature in Meadowland that I didn't learn at least one interesting new fact about (the occasional tendency of badgers to hold funerals for one another is a particular favourite).

Tom Cox, Observer

Engaging, closely-observed and beautiful ... this author's deep love of the world around him is as inspiring as it is entertaining. This wonderful book ... is most of all, a moving hymn of gratitude from a man so rooted, so full of joy that he likens his land to a cathedral and knows that: 'To stand alone in a field in England and listen to the morning chorus of the birds is to remember why life is precious'.

Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

An enchanting evocation of one of man's magical rural oases.

The Lady

[JLS] has a sharp eye, a fluent pen and that omnivorous, innocently English curiosity about wild creatures... There are lyrical moments aplenty but this is not the cloying 'regardez-moi maman' nature writing. JLS's tone is level, involved, humorous and even self-deprecating... This is a rich, interesting book, generously studded with raisins of curious information.

Angus Clarke, The Times

Absolutely inspiring and beautiful. I would recommend it to anyone

Ken Thompson, author of 'Where Do Camels Belong?'

This very personal love letter to the land is steeped in knowledge of the local flora, fauna and history, and grounded by the realities of farming. Precise and poetic descriptions are rooted in the context of conservation issues and heritage - names are often traced to their Anglo-Saxon or Celtic roots. Neither sentimental rhapsody nor environmental study, although containing elements of both, this is an insightful meditation on our relationship with nature, and on nature writing itself.

Juanita Coulson, The Lady

My book of the year. Meadowland is a seasonal journey of discovery, a pilgrimage that nurtures the soul and gives meaning to life; all life. Each beautifully crafted sentence provides a stepping-stone to absorb and understand the land, with the writer's lyrical voice acting as guide and trusty staff as well as illuminating the mind's eye with wonderful imagery and perceptive literary devices.

Stuart Winter, Sunday Express

Lively elegant prose. [John Lewis-Stempel's] thoughtful, discursive, often humorous and always enjoyable narrative conveys a vital message.

John Akeroyd, Spectator

A beautifully written and insightful diary with fascinating historical and literary diversions.

Brett Westwood, Countryfile

A vivid day-by-day account of the wild things he witnesses ... [with] intimate scenes [that] dot energetically between human and non-human tragedy and comedy. The backdrop - although right at the book's felt heart - is Mr Lewis-Stempel's attempt to gain the kind of imaginative lift-off that has been sought by every Arcadian dreamer since pastoral literature began.

Tim Dee, author of 'Four Fields', Country Life

It's the vignettes that suck us in: how flirtatious wrens court in the spring and how the curlew lands 20 yards from its nest ... It's enough to make any reader want their own meadowland.

Northern Echo; Birmingham Post

Once you become immersed in [John Lewis-Stempel's] joyful encounters with a host of wild flowers and creatures in his patch of Herefordshire, it's hard not to want to spend time - a lifetime at least - in his meadow.

Fergus Collins, Garden's Illustrated

Intelligent, delightful, cultured and informative. It's a very good read and I feel I will come back to it each year ...Recommend this book very strongly ...The writing is excellent and the subject is engaging. Do buy this book. Read and weep for what we have lost.

Mark Avery, markavery.info/blog

My holiday reading: [John Lewis-Stempel] knows not only all about the different kinds of life in such a place and how they all fit together, but can also write so vividly.

Philip Pullman, The Guardian

This beautiful panegyric to the traditional English hay meadow is an intimate yet surprisingly open book. Lewis-Stempel has created a deeply personal work, infused with natural history and ancient lores, yet entwined with the fabric of the modern day.

The Field

A careful exploration of the rich cultural history of this priceless British habitat . a worthy tribute to a fragile ecosystem.

BBC Wildlife Magazine

A poet's pen

Garden Design

[John Lewis-Stempel's] descriptions are intimate and lyrical, giving an overwhelming impression of an author who cares deeply for the landscape in which he finds himself ... We are in a golden age of nature writing, and John Lewis-Stempel [is] among its finest exponents.

The Tablet

Seen through the eyes and pen of a writer engaged in wresting a living from the land, yet also alert to the silent signs of the seasons... paints a vivid picture.

Resurgence & Ecologist

Quietly ecstatic prose


Meadowlands by John Lewis-Stempel caught me by surprise and had me spellbound. I couldn't put it down when I read it on holiday and it has helped me to see the world anew - looking for details and looking for nature around you.

Mike Collins, Senior Press Officer, National Trust, bathmic.wordpress.com

My book of 2014: A wonderfully evocative and restful read

Dame Athene Donald, Master of Churchill College, Cambridge, Times Higher Education Supplement

Of my best books of 2014, amongst some increasingly austere and dull nature writing, one book shone out for its unaffected simplicity and grace: Meadowland: The Private Life Of An English Field by John Lewis-Stempel

Hugh Thomson, www.thewhiterock.co.uk

Absolutely magical..a marvellous read

Jilly Cooper

Best book about plants and gardening of 2015

Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum, Guardian

Runner up Booklife Book of the Year: Nature writing at its finest.

Paul Cheney, Booklife

A year in the life of a Herefordshire meadow - beautifully written, verging on poetic.


A careful exploration of the rich cultural history of this priceless British habitat.

BBC Wildlife Magazine

Lewis-Stempel's exquisite prose are bolstered by a vast breadth of knowledge and a fierce admiration of his subject. This is beautiful love letter to the natural world and a must-read!

Newmarket Journal

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