Some favourite landscape reads

Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's visionary music – Rob Young

The inter-weaving of folk music, landscape, culture and more through a sweeping history of 'Albion's soundscape' over the last 100 years.

Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy  

The greatest, in my opinion, prose writer on the English countryside; his work captures the beauty and melancholia of a peopled landscape, based on an intimate lived experience of his Dorset/ Wessex surroundings at a time of great rural change. This choice could have been any number of his novels.

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Ideas of Landscape – Matthew Johnson

Accessible but stimulating run through of the key concepts, theories and philosophies of landscape in Western thought. A book about theoretical ideas that's a page turner.
Landscape Encyclopaedia: A Reference Guide to the Historic Landscape

Landscape Encyclopedia - Richard Muir

Invaluable reference source for archaeological and historical features of the landscape of the British Isles.

 Landscape and Memory - Simon Shama

A magisterial journey across landscapes, continents, centuries and genres, examining the relationship between humankind and landscape: "although we are accustomed to separate out nature and human perception into two realms they are, in fact, indivisible. Before it can ever be a repose for the senses, landscape is the work of the mind."

 Poly-Olbion - Michael Drayton
"or, A chorographicall description of tracts, riuers, mountaines, forests, and other parts of this renowned Isle of Great Britaine." 

A lyrical tour-de-force from 1613 - 1622 that attempts to describe every part of England and Wales (a volume on Scotland was not completed) in 15,000 lines of verse.

The History of the Countryside - Oliver Rackham

Although a natural historian by background, Rackham weaves together a detailed but highly accessible narrative of the history, and inter-connectedness, of the natural and man-made landscape.
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The Making of the English Landscape – WG Hoskins

Seminal study by old school 'muddy boots' empiricist and none the worse for that. Of its (early 50's) time, and reactionary in its anti-modernity, but still a recommended introduction to immersing yourself in the English landscape.
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The Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells  - AW Wainwright

The iconic exquisitely hand written and drawn guides to all the fells of the English Lake District, published during the 1960's in eight volumes following years of methodical research. Still as popular, and as useful, today as when produced, it seems unlikely that this work based on deep knowledge of a particular regional landscape will ever be surpassed.
The South Country

The South Country - Edward Thomas

Thomas wanders across familiar ground through Hampshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, observing the landscape, folklore and natural history on the cusp of the First World War.
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The Wild Places – Robert Macfarlane

The second part of a celebrated trilogy of modern 'nature writing'; an ode to diverse wild places across the British Isles and the joys of sleeping out under the stars.

Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands (hardback)  

Writing Britain: Wastelands to wonderlands - Christina Hardyment

Complementing the British Library's Writing Britain, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the best poetry and prose with a sense of place and the landscape from the across the British Isles.


  1. Thanks for this! Your time and comments.

  2. I may have missed this in your extensive lists but in the unlikely event that you are not aware of it I would recommend Jonathan Bate's The Song of the Earth.
    Your blog is an inspiration.


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