Thomas Bewick wrote A History of British Birds at the end of the eighteenth century, just as Britain fell in love with nature. This was one of the wildlife books that marked the moment, the first 'field-guide' for ordinary people, illustrated by woodcuts of astonishing accuracy and beauty. But it was far more than that, for in the vivid vignettes scattered through the book Bewick drew the life of the country people of the North East - a world already vanishing under the threat of enclosures.
In Nature's Engraver: The Life of Thomas Bewick, Jenny Uglow tells the story of the farmer's son from Tyneside who revolutionised wood-engraving and influenced book illustration for a century to come. It is a story of violent change, radical politics, lost ways of life and the beauty of the wild - a journey to the beginning of our lasting obsession with the natural world.
Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick by Jenny Uglow