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  • Published: 3 October 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473569843
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

Turning the Boat for Home

A life writing about nature




Britain's most-influential nature writer reflects on a lifetime of close observation and celebrates the positive force of the natural world

Richard Mabey has spent a lifetime paying attention to the detail of the natural world. In Turning the Boat for Home he reflects on his career, and introduces pieces from his writing life, to show the naturalist’s eye in a changing landscape.

It was exploring the marshes on the north Norfolk coast and discovering that there was an active tradition there of eating the shoreline plants which led Mabey to write his first nature book, Food for Free (1972) which has since become a classic of foraging. His writing about plants, and investigating the stories behind the naming of plants – in particular vernacular names and “modern folklore”, led to Flora Britannica (1996) a Domesday Book equivalent listing the plants in Britain, with contributions by thousands of members of the public. In considering the politics of the countryside, Mabey also tracks the nature conservation movement and looks at how the championing of our woods and common land has made a difference in recent times. Ultimately, Mabey’s appreciation of other writers’ work - from Richard Jefferies to Ronald Blythe, Rachel Carson to Roger Deakin, Kenneth Allsop and Oliver Rackham – celebrates the rich tradition of nature writing from Gilbert White to the present.

Throughout his work, Mabey shows how the elements of the natural world are deeply embedded in our everyday lives but remain autonomous beings telling their own stories – Turning the Boat for Home is an affectionate and sharp-eyed appreciation of that ongoing dialogue. There is no better person to tell this story.

  • Published: 3 October 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473569843
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the author

Richard Mabey

Richard Mabey is the acclaimed author of some thirty books including Gilbert White, which won the Whitbread Biography Award in 1986, Flora Britannica(1995), winner of a National Book Award, and Nature Cure (2005), which was short-listed for three major literary awards, the Whitbread, Ondaatje, and J.R. Ackerley prizes. He writes for the GuardianNew Statesman and Granta, and contributes frequently to BBC radio. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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Praise for Turning the Boat for Home

Richard Mabey is among the best writers at work in Britain. I don't mean among the best nature writers, I mean the best writers, full stop. I would read anything he wrote, but if such a thing as nature writing exists and flourishes today it is thanks almost entirely to him. I have lived by his books for all of my life. Pretty much all of what nature means to me, I know thanks to his own lifelong clear-eyed but loving investigation of what it means to him. He has allowed us all to think about modern nature – our world - but also, crucially, to feel it too. I cannot imagine a truer green man.

Tim Dee

One figure, like no other, looms large in setting the ground for the contemporary form that has come to be called then New Nature Writing. Richard Mabey is an author whose work has consistently pioneered new ways of thinking about landscape, nature, place, culture and the range of interconnections that all of these share. Often this has meant reminding us of old ways of thinking about these things but he has always had a sharp eye for the new meanings our modern context provokes.

Jos Smith

One of our most influential writers on the natural world

Gardens Illustrated

A valuable contribution to a great cause

John Jolliffe, Spectator

Poised where nature meets culture, he [Richard Mabey] is knowledgeable, politically savvy and wry, and an excellent naturalist

Kathleen Jamie, New Statesman, *Books of the Year*

A vintage collection that shows the evolution of his [Mabey’s] thinking, perfect for chilling out

Liz Else, New Scientist

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