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A New Forest Reader: A Companion Guide to the New Forest, Its History and Landscape

A New Forest Reader: A Companion Guide to the New Forest, Its History and Landscape


Edited and Introduced by Ian McKay

Authors in this anthology include: C. R. Cornish, Daniel Defoe, William Gilpin, Francis George Heath, W. H. Hudson, Gerald Lascelles, Richard Heath, Elizabeth Godfrey, Heywood Sumner, George R. Tweedie, Telford Varley, and John R. Wise.

Hatchet Green Press
ISBN: 978-0956837202
May 10, 2011
332 pages

There are many guide books that introduce the reader to the pleasures, curiosities and breathtaking beauty of the New Forest, but what of the historical writings that have now fallen out of print or become lost to the archive? - It is in these that we might truly come to understand just how little the Forest has changed (or, if it has, then how). 

Though it has become something of a cliché to refer the New Forest's unchanging state, it is no less true that a great portion of it has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. The essays, articles and extracts to be found in this anthology of New Forest writing have been selected precisely to illustrate this point, as well as to bring into circulation again, some of the best writing from the past.

With this anthology, follow in the footsteps of the most celebrated writers on the New Forest; including William Gilpin, John R. Wise, and Heywood Sumner, as well as 18th and 19th century diarists and chroniclers such as Daniel Defoe, William Cobbett, and Richard Heath. Among the many contributions on the natural history of the New Forest are writings by the celebrated naturalists W.H. Hudson, and C.J. Cornish, as well as the prolific writer on British woodlands, Francis George Heath. For anyone interested in the complex history and landscape of the New Forest, this anthology will prove fascinating.


This well thought-out 332 page volume is an anthology of some of the most important historical writing on the history, landscape and wildlife of the New Forest... beautifully illustrated with more than 30 monochrome ink sketches and line drawings taken from the original publications. This is an excellent and delightful book which brings together the cream of bygone writings on the New Forest, many of which are now out of print and can be difficult to find or prohibitively expensive to purchase. This well-presented volume therefore makes a flavour of some of the best past observations on the Forest available to everyone. Published by Hatchet Green publishing, it is incredibly good value at just £9.99, and is highly recommended.

– M.J. Nesbitt, The Lymington Times

Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with this unique place will find something of interest in here. The editor, has drawn together writing from many well-known authors, including Daniel Defoe, William Cobbett, W.H. Hudson, William Gilpin and Heywood Sumner. The pieces stretch from 1776 to 1931. Reading them with the dates of writing in mind it is interesting how the perceptions of the forest changed. The growth of romanticism saw the woodlands lauded whilst the heaths, now endangered across lowland Britain, were described in the 19th century as "intolerable" by Cobbett on one of his rural rides in 1831. Only more recently have their austere beauty been universally appreciated.

– Andrew Napier, The Hampshire Chronicle

The New Forest has a fine literary tradition, having distinguished authors who have either written from within it or against the background it provided, sometimes both, and those who have written about it. Some of the most distinguished contributions within the latter are long out of print, and some can only be obtained at considerable expense on the second-hand market. In consequence of which their writings are becoming more and more distant from those concerned with, and for, the forest today. Extracts are chosen from over 20 writers covering a period of nearly 150 years – a must for those who want handy access into the literary riches attending our forest's history.

– Guardian Diarist Graham Long, New Forest Association News

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