What would happen, I wondered, if I simply missed out the fifty per cent of the population whose voices have been credited with shaping this particular ‘cultural norm’. If I coppiced the woodland, so to speak, and allowed the light to shine down to the forest floor and illuminate countless saplings now that a gap has opened in the canopy. There has, in recent years, been an explosion of writing about place, landscape and the natural world.
But within this, women’s voices have remained in the minority. This anthology gathers the voices of women from the fourteenth to the twenty-first centuries whose subject is the natural world in Britain, Ireland and the outlying islands of our archipelago. Alongside the traditional forms of the travelogue, the walking guide, books on birds, plants and wildlife, Women on Nature embraces alternative modes of seeing and recording that turn the genre on its head.
Katharine Norbury has sifted though the pages of women’s fiction, poetry, biography, gardening diaries and recipe books and garnered accounts from artists, farmers, theologians and natural scientists to demonstrate the multitudinous ways in which women have observed the world about them. From the fourteenth-century spiritual revelations of Julian of Norwich to the seventeenth-century travel journals of Celia Fiennes, and including a host of twenty-first-century voices such Sarah Evans, Sinead Gleeson, Kathleen Jamie, Jackie Kay, Rachel Lichtenstein, Amy Liptrot, Helen Mort, Anita Sethi and more, Women on Nature presents a fresh vision of the natural world and is of unique importance in terms of women’s history and the history of writing about nature.
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