Ronald Blythe

A Year in the Life

Wild Hares and Hummingbirds: The Natural History of an English Village

By

Vintage 305pp £8.99 order from our bookshop

John Clare and Gilbert White set patterns which will always be copied, and rightly so. The Shepherd’s Calendar and The Natural History of Selborne describe the rural year of great numbers of people in these islands, a kind of cycle that only faded from sight within living memory.

The village of Stephen Moss’s title is Mark in Somerset, ‘a misty marshy place’ with small fields, set in what was once mythically identified as Avalon. And although Moss doesn’t mention it, the village is within walking distance of the countryside of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads. It is a landscape steeped in stories and poetry. You can see Cheddar Gorge and Glastonbury from the church tower. Moss, a Londoner and nature journalist of distinction, settled there with his wife and five children quite recently, and this book sees him getting to know his new home. He walks and bikes around the course of a year, watching and listening. Today’s routines of shopping, school and parish activity are fitted into Clare’s and White’s experience of the seasons. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,