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Melissa Harrison is a novelist and nature writer. She contributes a monthly Nature Notebook column to The Times and writes for the FT Weekend, the Guardian and the New Statesman. Her most recent novel, All Among the Barley, was the UK winner of the European Union Prize for Literature. It was a Waterstones Paperback of the Year and a Book of the Year in the Observer, the New Statesman and the Irish Times.
Her previous books have been shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (At Hawthorn Time) and the Wainwright Prize (Rain). She lives in rural Suffolk, the setting for the hit podcast which accompanies her book, also called The Stubborn Light of Things.
A nature diary by award-winning novelist, nature writer and hit podcaster Melissa Harrison, following her journey from urban south London to the rural Suffolk countryside.
By turns gripping, meditative and elemental, and always inspirational, this treasure trove of prose, poetry and art lays bare a richness of relationships between female adventurers and the great outdoors. Shunning conventional, simplistic narratives about mankind conquering the highest this, or the deepest that, each adventurer-contributor shares their unique experiences with enlightening, engaging subtlety. In the wise words of one writer, “People go outdoors to push themselves past what they thought they could do…I go outdoors for the struggle, not to beat it.” This eloquent anthology contains over seventy pieces of writing and art, among them an enlightening piece about the motivations of an Antarctic researcher, an intimate account of a mountaineer’s connection with her father through cross-country skiing, and an exquisite evocation of the sensuous life-forces of a Dartmoor brook. It’s a delight to dip into, and the perfect gift for nature-lovers and adventure-seekers.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA NOVEL AWARD 2015 Four-thirty on a May morning: the black fading to blue, dawn gathering somewhere below the treeline in the east. A long, straight road runs between sleeping fields to the little village of Lodeshill, and on it two cars lie wrecked and ravished, violence gathered about them in the silent air. One wheel, upturned, still spins. Howard and Kitty have recently moved to Lodeshill after a life spent in London; now, their marriage is wordlessly falling apart. Custom car enthusiast Jamie has lived in the village for all of his nineteen years and dreams of leaving it behind, while Jack, a vagrant farm-worker and mystic in flight from a bail hostel, arrives in the village on foot one spring morning, bringing change. All four of them are struggling to find a life in the modern countryside; all are trying to find ways to belong. Building to an extraordinary climax over the course of one spring month, At Hawthorn Time is both a clear-eyed picture of rural Britain, and a heartbreaking exploration of love, land and loss.
Four-thirty on a May morning: the black fading to blue, dawn gathering somewhere below the treeline in the east. A long, straight road runs between sleeping fields to the little village of Lodeshill, and on it two cars lie wrecked and ravished, violence gathered about them in the silent air. One wheel, upturned, still spins. Howard and Kitty have recently moved to Lodeshill after a life spent in London; now, their marriage is wordlessly falling apart. Custom car enthusiast Jamie has lived in the village for all of his nineteen years and dreams of leaving it behind, while Jack, a vagrant farm-worker and mystic in flight from a bail hostel, arrives in the village on foot one spring morning, bringing change. All four of them are struggling to find a life in the modern countryside; all are trying to find ways to belong.
A SUNDAY TIMES NATURE BOOK OF THE YEAR *UPDATED EDITION FEATURING EXTRA MATERIAL* A nature diary by award-winning novelist, nature writer and hit podcaster Melissa Harrison, following her journey from urban south London to the rural Suffolk countryside. 'A writer of great gifts.' Robert Macfarlane 'The journal of a writer to compare to Thomas Hardy. Melissa Harrison is among our most celebrated nature writers.' John Carey, The Times A Londoner for over twenty years, moving from flat to Tube to air-conditioned office, Melissa Harrison knew what it was to be insulated from the seasons. Adopting a dog and going on daily walks helped reconnect her with the cycle of the year and the quiet richness of nature all around her: swifts nesting in a nearby church; ivy-leaved toadflax growing out of brick walls; the first blackbird's song; an exhilarating glimpse of a hobby over Tooting Common. Moving from scrappy city verges to ancient, rural Suffolk, where Harrison eventually relocates, this diary - compiled from her beloved Nature Notebook column in The Times - maps her joyful engagement with the natural world and demonstrates how we must first learn to see, and then act to preserve, the beauty we have on our doorsteps - no matter where we live. A perceptive and powerful call-to-arms written in mesmerising prose, The Stubborn Light of Things confirms Harrison as a central voice in British nature writing.
'A masterpiece' JON MCGREGOR 'Impossible to forget' THE TIMES 'Astonishing' GUARDIAN 'Startling' FINANCIAL TIMES WINNER OF THE EU PRIZE FOR LITERATURE 'BOOK OF THE YEAR' NEW STATESMAN, OBSERVER, IRISH TIMES, BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE The fields were eternal, our life the only way of things, and I would do whatever was required of me to protect it. The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, though the Great War still casts a shadow over the cornfields of her beloved home, Wych Farm. When charismatic, outspoken Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to write about fading rural traditions, she takes an interest in fourteen-year-old Edie, showing her a kindness she has never known before. But the older woman isn't quite what she seems. As harvest time approaches and pressures mount on the whole community, Edie must find a way to trust her instincts and save herself from disaster.
A wonderful meditation on the English landscape in wet weather by the acclaimed novelist and nature writer, Melissa Harrison. Whenever rain falls, our countryside changes. Fields, farms, hills and hedgerows appear altered, the wildlife behaves differently, and over time the terrain itself is transformed. In Rain, Melissa Harrison explores our relationship with the weather as she follows the course of four rain showers, in four seasons, across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor. Blending these expeditions with reading, research, memory and imagination, she reveals how rain is not just an essential element of the world around us, but a key part of our own identity too.
Winter is a withdrawal: quiet and dark and cold. But in the dim light frost shimmers, stars twinkle and hearths blaze as we come together to keep out the chill. In spite of the season, life persists: visiting birds fill our skies, familiar creatures find clever ways to survive, and the world reveals winter riches to those willing to venture outdoors. In prose and poetry spanning seven hundred years, Winter delights in the brisk pleasures and enduring beauty of the year's turning. Featuring new writing from Patrick Barkham, Satish Kumar and Anita Sethi, extracts from the work of Robert Macfarlane, James Joyce and Kathleen Jamie, and a range of exciting new voices from across the UK, this invigorating collection evokes the joys and the consolations of this magical time of year.
Autumn is a time of transformation. Crisp, clear days mark summer's close and usher in a new season with its rich scents and vivid palette, leaves flaming red and gold by day, bonfires and fireworks lighting up the lengthening nights. There is abundance, as humans and animals make stores for the winter; and there is decay, which gives rise to the next cycle of life. In prose and poetry from across the British Isles, Autumn captures both the exhilaration and the melancholy of this turning point in the year. Featuring original writing by Horatio Clare, John Lewis-Stempel and Amy Liptrot, classic extracts from the work of Ted Hughes, Helen Macdonald and Nan Shepherd, and a wealth of fresh new voices, Autumn is an evocative celebration of the year's decline - and new beginnings.
Summer is a season of richness: gold against blue; sun dazzle on water; sweet fragrance, and the sound of insects, filling the air. We feel the sand between our toes, or the grass beneath our feet. In these long, warm days, languid and sensual, we reconnect with the natural world, revelling in light and scent and colour once more. Capturing the high point of the year's progress, Summer presents prose and poetry spanning eight hundred years. Featuring new contributions by Simon Barnes, Michael McCarthy and Esther Woolfson, classic extracts from the work of Charles Dickens, Mary Webb and Philip Larkin, and diverse new nature writing from across the UK, this vibrant and evocative collection will inspire you to go out and enjoy the pleasures of summer.
Eight-year-old TC skips school to explore the city's overgrown, forgotten corners. Sophia, seventy-eight, watches with concern as he slips past her window, through the little park she loves. She's writing to her granddaughter, Daisy, whose privileged upbringing means she exists in a different world from TC - though the two children live less than a mile apart. Jozef spends his days doing house clearances, his nights working in a takeaway. He can't forget the farm he left behind in Poland, its woods and fields still a part of him, although he is a thousand miles away. When he meets TC he finds a kindred spirit: both lonely, both looking for something, both lost.
Woven out of wisdom, humour, experience, love, charm, and a poetic economy of words, here is one pithy, memorable lesson per page, beginning with the Beginning, and covering toddlerhood, the school years, spirituality, and, of course, love and romance. The helpful reinforcement of principles for mums of daughters: give her a little rope, let her learn from her mistakes while the stakes aren't so high. The true voice of experience: fill your house with warmth, love, and joy, and you'll find it's also filled with her and her friends. And what to do when she's all grown up and getting ready to leave: tell her how much joy she's brought into your life.
Woven out of wisdom, humour, experience, love, charm, and a poetic economy of words, here is one pithy, memorable lesson per page, beginning with the Beginning, and covering toddlerhood, the school years, spirituality, and, of course, love and romance. There are practical matters for first-time mothers of sons: watch out when you're changing his nappy. Baby boys shoot straight in the air. The whimsical yet invaluable suggestion: have tea with him in the afternoons. Serve cookies. Reminders about the importance of your own values: treat his father with love and respect. Show your son that being a man is a good thing.