Ronald Blythe

A Year in the Life

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


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. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,