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WINNER OF THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2018 WINNER OF THE JEFFERIES AWARD FOR NATURE WRITING 2017 The full story of seabirds from one of the greatest nature writers. The book looks at the pattern of their lives, their habitats, the threats they face and the passions they inspire - beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer. Seabirds are master navigators, thriving in the most demanding environment on earth. In this masterly book, drawing on all the most recent research, Adam Nicolson follows them to the coasts and islands of Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and the Americas. Beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer, The Seabird's Cry is a celebration of the wonders of the only creatures at home in the air, on land and on the sea. It also carries a warning: the number of seabirds has dropped by two-thirds since 1950. Extinction stalks the ocean and there is a danger that the grand cry of a seabird colony will this century become little but a memory.
From Land's End to Cape Clear, past Roaringwater Bay and Cod's Head, on past Inishvickillane and Inishtooskert, up through the Hebrides, to Orkney and on to the Faeroes stretches the richest and wildest coastline in Europe. Adam Nicolson decided to sail this coast in the "Auk," a 42-foot wooden ketch, embarking on a 1,500-mile voyage through what he hoped would be a sequence of revelatory landscapes. He was not disappointed.
"Seamanship" is more than a travel journal. It describes an inner journey as much as an outer one--disasters and discoveries, powerful landscapes and modern visionaries, and encounters with the animals living on the wild edge of the Atlantic. Above all, it is about the gaps that open up between those who go and those who stay at home.
"Seamanship," in the end, is not about the sea. It's about being alive.
Longlisted for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction `A thrilling and complex book, enlarges our view of Homer ... There's something that hits the mark on every page' Claire Tomalin, Books of the Year, New Statesman Where does Homer come from? And why does Homer matter? His epic poems of war and suffering can still speak to us of the role of destiny in life, of cruelty, of humanity and its frailty, but why they do is a mystery. How can we be so intimate with something so distant? `The Mighty Dead' is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by some of the oldest stories we have - the great ancient poems of Homer and their metaphors of life and trouble. In this provocative and enthralling book, Adam Nicolson explains why Homer still matters and how these vital, epic verses - with their focus on the eternal questions about the individual versus the community, honour and service, love and war - tell us how we became who we are.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD 2019 Wordsworth and Coleridge as you've never seen them before in this new book by Adam Nicolson, brimming with poetry, art and nature writing. Proof that poetry can change the world. It is the most famous year in English poetry. Out of it came The Ancient Mariner and 'Kubla Khan', as well as Coleridge's unmatched hymns to friendship and fatherhood, Wordsworth's revolutionary verses in Lyrical Ballads and the greatness of 'Tintern Abbey', his paean to the unity of soul and cosmos, love and understanding. Bestselling and award-winning writer Adam Nicolson tells the story, almost day by day, of the year in the late 1790s that Coleridge, Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and an ever-shifting cast of friends, dependants and acolytes spent together in the Quantock Hills in Somerset. To a degree never shown before, The Making of Poetry explores the idea that these poems came from this place, and that only by experiencing the physical circumstances of the year, in all weathers and all seasons, at night and at dawn, in sunlit reverie and moonlit walks, can the genesis of the poetry start to be understood. What emerges is a portrait of these great figures as young people, troubled, ambitious, dreaming of a vision of wholeness, knowing they had greatness in them but still in urgent search of the paths towards it. The poetry they made was not from settled conclusions but from the adventure on which they were all embarked, seeing what they wrote as a way of stripping away all the dead matter, exfoliating consciousness, penetrating its depths. Poetry for them was not an ornament for civilisation but a challenge to it, a means of remaking the world.
Spanning the most turbulent and dramatic years of English history--from the 1520s through 1650--"Quarrel with the King" tells the remarkable saga of one of the greatest families in English history, the Pembrokes, following their glamorous trajectory across three generations of change, ambition, resistance, and war. With vivid color and fascinating detail, acclaimed historian Adam Nicolson recounts the story of a century-long power struggle between England's richest family and the English Crown--a fascinating study of divided loyalties, corruption, rights and privilege, and all the ambiguities involved in the exercise and maintenance of power and status.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be given your own remote islands? Thirty years ago it happened to Adam Nicolson. Aged 21, Nicolson inherited the Shiants, three lonely Hebridean islands set in a dangerous sea off the Isle of Lewis. With only a stone bothy for accommodation and half a million puffins for company, he found himself in charge of one of the most beautiful places on earth. The story of the Shiants is a story of birds and boats, hermits and fishermen, witchcraft and catastrophe, and Nicolson expertly weaves these elements into his own tale of seclusion on the Shiants to create a stirring celebration of island life.
A fascinating account from award-winning author Adam Nicolson on
the history of Nicolson's own national treasure, his family home:
"From the Hardcover edition."
The Smell of Summer Grass is the story of the years spent in finding and building a personal idyll, sometimes a dream, sometimes a nightmare, by writer Adam Nicolson and his wife, cook and gardener, Sarah Raven. Without knowing one end of a hay baler from the other, Adam Nicolson and Sarah Raven, fed up with London and with life, escaped with his family to a run-down farm in the Sussex Weald. Looking for Arcadia, they found a mixture of intense beauty and profound chaos. Over three years they struggled with dock leaves, spring flowers, bloody-minded sheep and neighbours before eventually arriving at some kind of equilibrium. Funny, poetic, ironic and wise, 'The Smell of Summer Grass' is based partly on the long out of print 'Perch Hill'. It traces the growing intimacy between man and his chosen place, his love affair with it and his frustrations with its intractable realities. As an attempt to live out the pastoral vision, it makes one heartfelt plea: we should never abandon our dreams.
A fascinating, lively account of the making of the King James Bible. James VI of Scotland - now James I of England - came into his new kingdom in 1603. Trained almost from birth to manage rival political factions, he was determined not only to hold his throne, but to avoid the strife caused by religious groups that was bedevilling most European countries. He would hold his God-appointed position and unify his kingdom. Out of these circumstances, and involving the very people who were engaged in the bitterest controversies, a book of extraordinary grace and lasting literary appeal was created: the King James Bible. 47 scholars from Cambridge, Oxford and London translated the Bible, drawing from many previous versions, and created what many believe to be the greatest prose work ever written in English - the product of a culture in a peculiarly conflicted era. This was the England of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson and Bacon; but also of extremist Puritans, the Gunpowder plot, the Plague, of slum dwellings and crushing religious confines. Quite how this astonishing translation emerges is the central question of this book. Far more than Shakespeare, this Bible helped to create and shape the language. It is the origin of many of our most familiar phrases, and the foundations of the English-speaking world. It was a generous and deliberate decision to make the Bible available to the common man: not an immediate commercial success, but which later became a bestseller, and has remained one ever since. Adam Nicolson gives a fascinating and dramatic account of the early years of the first Stewart ruler, and the scholars who laboured for seven years to create the world's greatest book; immersing us in a world of ingratiating bishops, a fascinating monarch and London at a time unlike any other.
A fascinating depiction from award-winning author, Adam Nicolson, of a family and a country on the hinge of modernisation. Was our country once a better place? Has modernisation destroyed as much as it has improved? And can we see in an earlier Britain a way of living, an Arcadia, which now seems both ideal and remote? Through 16th- and 17th-century England, the changes of an approaching modernity accelerated. With the growing power of the state, the disruption of the traditional bonds of society, the breaking of communities and the marginalisation of the great families who had once balanced the power of the crown, the new mercantile, individualist world increasingly clashed with the communal and chivalric ideals of the old. To tell this story from the 1520s to the 1640s, Adam Nicolson takes a single great family, the Earls of Pembroke, their wives, children, estates, tenants and allies, and follows their high and glamorous trajectory across three generations of change, nostalgia, ambition, resistance and war. `Arcadia' is a rich and detailed evocation of England on the hinge of medieval and modern, and in this wide-ranging book Adam Nicolson explores a world in transition, moving from the intrigues, alliances and vendettas of the court to the intricate, everyday business of rural communities managing their affairs in times of stress. It was an England caught up in its first taste of modernity, yet divided over how to react to it, split between the old and the new, the moment at which the world we have lost turned into the world it has now become.
Now, when this unwritten history of our relationship with the land is under persistent attack from development, agrochemicals and genetic engineering, poetry raises questions about the real partnership between humankind and nature that fields represent. This anthology brings together the work of more than ninety poets, ancient and modern, including Wendell Berry, John Betjeman, John Burnside, Helen Dunmore, Ivor Gurney, Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Jennings, John Keats, Alice Oswald, Kathleen Raine and Walt Whitman.
Since establishing himself as a critically acclaimed landscape photographer in the 1970s, Fabian Miller has reinvented himself as an artist specializing in camera-less, darkroom-produced photographic images exploring the elements of light, time, and color in a notably spare, but also vividly spiritual aesthetic style which recalls elements of Modernism and intuitive scientific exploration. Fabian Miller exposes light directly onto photographic paper through substances such as plants, engine oil, cut-paper shapes, glass and water. The methods used in the capturing of Fabian Miller's artworks means that they are nearly impossible to accurately reproduce, resulting in one of a kind, strikingly luminous pieces; a record of light's behavior caught on photographic paper. The Colour of Time features images personally retouched under the artist's direction, and therefore provides the most accurate printed representation of his work: "The pictures I make are of nothing which exists in the world.... What I am trying to suggest is a state of mind which lifts the spirits and gives strength and some kind of clarity." The Colour of Time is split into three key sections. In the first section, noted academic philosopher Nigel Warburton provides an overview of Fabian Miller's work to date, including pieces which were created prior to his landmark Year 1, October 2005-October 2006. Year 1 is Fabian Miller's documentation through the passage of a year, with Fabian Miller creating a daily image, with results that vary from gentle to radical. The book features examples of artworks from all of the artist's recent works, including Year 2 and later series, as well as pictures of Fabian Miller's work in the context of various gallery exhibitions. The latter sections of the book more directly cover the periods of 2007-2008 and 2009-present. The second section encompasses full color plates of examples of work from the series Year 2. The artwork plates are prefixed with an introductory essay by novelist, mythologist and cultural historian Marina Warner. The final chapter is preceded with an introductory text by eminent travel writer and historian, Adam Nicolson, whose essay "The Otherworld" focuses on the prominence of the concept of night-time "nothingness" and the inexorable links between the notion of an "otherworld", the natural world, and the human psyche in Fabian Miller's work. Garry Fabian Miller has a deserved reputation as one of the most progressive artists working with photography today and The Colour of Time is a beautifully reproduced overview and welcome addition to the published work of the artist's progressive and affecting recent output.
THE WORLD S GREATEST WAR NOVEL Humans and gods wrestling with towering emotions. Men fighting to the death amid devastation and destruction. Perhaps the Western world s first and best storyteller, Homer draws the reader in with bated breath. His masterful tale contains some of the most famous episodes in all of literature: the curse on the prophet Cassandra; the siege of Troy; the battle between Hector and Achilles; the face that launched a thousand ships; and of course, the deception of the Trojan Horse. To this day, the heroism and adventure of "The Iliad" have remained unmatched in song and story. In his plain English translation, W.H.D. Rouse makes a point to keep the language as colloquial as Homer s original was, never pedantic, high-flown, or cliched. In fact, it is the nearest contemporary English equivalent to the epic Homer s audience heard at their banquets.
WINNER OF THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2018 WINNER OF THE JEFFERIES AWARD FOR NATURE WRITING 2017 The full story of seabirds from one of the greatest nature writers. The book looks at the pattern of their lives, their habitats, the threats they face and the passions they inspire - beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer. In ten chapters, each dedicated to a different bird, and each beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer, The Seabird's Cry travels their ocean paths, fusing traditional knowledge with all that modern science has come to know about them: the way their bodies work, their dazzling navigational expertise, their ability to smell their way to fish or home, to understand the workings of the winds in which they live. At the heart of the book are the Shiant Isles - a cluster of Hebridean islands in the Minch that Adam Nicolson has known all his life - but he has pursued the birds much further: across the Atlantic, up the west coast of Ireland, to St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland, the Faeroes, Iceland and Norway to the eastern seaboard of America, the Falklands, South Georgia, the Canaries and the Azores - reaching out across the widths of the world ocean. This book is a paean to the beauty of life on the wing, but even as we are coming to understand the seabirds, a global tragedy is unfolding. Their number is in freefall, dropping by nearly seventy per cent in the last sixty years, a billion fewer now than in 1950. Of the ten birds in this book, seven are in decline. Extinction stalks the ocean and there is a danger that the grand cry of a seabird colony, rolling around the bays and headlands of high latitudes, will this century become but a memory.
Adam Nicolson tells the story of England through the history of fourteen gentry families - from the 15th century to the present day. This sparkling work of history reads like a real-life Downton Abbey, as the loves, hatreds and many times of grief of his chosen cast illuminate the grand events of history. We may well be `a nation of shopkeepers', but for generations England was a country dominated by its middling families, rooted on their land, in their locality, with a healthy interest in turning a profit from their property and a deep distrust of the centralised state. The virtues we may all believe to be part of the English culture - honesty, affability, courtesy, liberality - each of these has their source in gentry life cultivated over five hundred years. These folk were the backbone of England. Adam Nicolson's riveting new book concentrates on fourteen families, from 1400 to the present day. From the medieval gung-ho of the Plumpton family to the high-seas adventures of the Lascelles in the eighteenth century, to more modern examples, the book provides a chronological picture of the English, seen through these intimate, passionate, powerful stories of family saga. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished archive material, here is a vivid depiction of the life and code of the gentry. `The Gentry' is first and foremost a wonderful sweep of English history, shedding light on the creation of the distinctive English character but with the sheer readability of an epic novel.
In October 1805 Lord Horatio Nelson, the most brilliant sea commander who ever lived, led the British Royal Navy to a devastating victory over the Franco-Spanish fleets at the great battle of Trafalgar. It was the foundation of Britain's nineteenth-century world-dominating empire. Adam Nicolson's "Seize the Fire" is not only a close and revealing portrait of a legendary hero in his final action but also a vivid account of the brutal realities of battle; it asks the questions: Why did the winners win? What was it about the British, their commanders and their men, their beliefs and their ambitions, that took them to such overwhelming victory?
Accompanied by an eight-part series, this is the story of Adam Nicolson's adventure in a small boat around the western coast of the British Isles. Early in the year, Adam Nicolson decided to leave his comfy life at home on a Sussex farm and go on an adventure. Equipped with the Auk, a forty-two-foot wooden ketch, and a friend who at least knew how to sail, he set off up the Atlantic coasts of the British Isles: Cornwall to Scilly, over to Pembrokeshire and the west of Ireland, to the Hebrides and its offliers, St Kilda and North Rona, before heading on to Orkney, and finally to the Faroes, a two hundred mile leap out into the autumn winds of the North Atlantic. But the book is not just a travel journal. Adam Nicolson writes of his own yearnings for the sea and for wide open spaces. His year is strung between the competing claims of leaving and belonging, of thinking that no life could be more exhilarating than battling a big gale driving in out of the Atlantic and of wanting to be back, in harbour, safe, still and protected. Running throughout the book is a dialogue within the author himself between the attractions of home and not home, the certainties of what you know and the seductions of what you don't. Reflective and poetic, this book is full of rich experience. It is a story passionately engaged with the beauty and marvels of the wild Atlantic coast, but is also a self-portrait of a man in the middle of his life who is determined to find out what it's all for.
A net of complex currents flowed across Jacobean England. This was
the England of Shakespeare, Jonson and Bacon; of the Gunpowder
Plot; the worst outbreak of the plague England had ever seen;
Arcadian landscapes; murderous, toxic slums; and, above all, of
sometimes overwhelming religious passion. Jacobean England was both
more godly and less godly than it had ever been, and the entire
culture was drawn taut between the polarities.
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