The Wood – The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood – Paperback
- Black Swan / Penguin
- 2019 ISBN 9781784162436
- 304 pages
- 20 × 13 × 2 cm
Written in diary format, The Wood is the story of English woodlands as they change with the seasons. Lyrical and informative, steeped in poetry and folklore, The Wood inhabits the mind and touches the soul.
For four years John Lewis-Stempel managed Cockshutt wood, a particular wood – three and half acres of mixed woodland in south west Herefordshire – that stands as exemplar for all the small woods of England. John coppiced the trees and raised cows and pigs who roamed free there.
This is the diary of the last year, by which time he had come to know it from the bottom of its beech roots to the tip of its oaks, and to know all the animals that lived there – the fox, the pheasants, the wood mice, the tawny owl – and where the best bluebells grew. For many fauna and flora, woods like Cockshutt are the last refuge. It proves a sanctuary for John too.
To read The Wood is to be amongst its trees as the seasons change, following an easy path until, suddenly the view is broken by a screen of leaves, or your foot catches on a root, or a bird startles overhead. This is a wood you will never want to leave.
“It is a pleasure to be in the company of a man who is so attuned to his woody world … He is good at sketching nature, fixing a vivid image in the mind’s eye of a reader … Lewis-Stempel has rightly won himself the reputation as being among our best nature writers … The Wood is an entertaining, illuminating, well-turned read” – Robbie Millen, The Times
“John Lewis-Stempel is the hottest nature writer around.” – Spectator
“A heartfelt and evocative diary of a year among the trees…it’s his observation of the natural world – the sight, the sound, the smell of it – that is so memorable. He has a distinctively brisk, muscular style of writing that has a poetic intensity and concision.” – Guardian
“Lyrical diary documenting a year in nature … he’s brilliant on birds and their habits.” – Helen Brown, Daily Mail
“Another triumph. Natural, translucent, full of half-glimpsed depths….just like a wood itself.” – Philip Marsden