Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Wildwood: A Journey through Trees

Rate this book

Here, published for the first time in the United States, is the last book by Roger Deakin, famed British nature writer and icon of the environmentalist movement. In Deakin's glorious meditation on wood, the "fifth element"as it exists in nature, in our culture, and in our souls the reader accompanies Deakin through the woods of Britain, Europe, Kazakhstan, and Australia in search of what lies behind man's profound and enduring connection with trees.

Deakin lives in forest shacks, goes "coppicing" in Suffolk, swims beneath the walnut trees of the Haut-Languedoc, and hunts bushplums with Aboriginal women in the outback. Along the way, he ferrets out the mysteries of woods, detailing the life stories of the timber beams composing his Elizabethan house and searching for the origin of the apple.

As the world's forests are whittled away, Deakin's sparkling prose evokes woodlands anarchic with life, rendering each tree as an individual, living being. At once a traveler's tale and a splendid work of natural history, Wildwood reveals, amid the world's marvelous diversity, that which is universal in human experience.

391 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2007

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Roger Deakin

6 books164 followers
Roger Stuart Deakin was an English writer, documentary-maker and environmentalist.

Educated at Haberdashers' Aske's and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read English, he first worked in advertising as a copywriter and creative director.

In 1968 he bought an Elizabethan moated farmhouse on the edge of Mellis Common, near Diss where he lived until his death from a brain tumour, first diagnosed only four months before his death.

Deakin was a founder director of the arts/environmental charity Common Ground in 1982.

In 1999 his acclaimed book Waterlog was published by Chatto and Windus in the United Kingdom. Inspired in part by a short story by John Cheever, The Swimmer, (Burt Lancaster was in the film), it describes his experiences of 'wild swimming', swimming in Britain's rivers and lakes and is both a campaigning work and poetic odyssey. Wildwood, appeared posthumously in 2007 and in November 2008, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm - a collection of writing taken from his personal notebooks was published to high critical appraisal.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
862 (39%)
4 stars
809 (37%)
3 stars
374 (17%)
2 stars
91 (4%)
1 star
27 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 226 reviews
Profile Image for Simon.
168 reviews27 followers
June 20, 2016
A really beautiful book. Even the din on a packed rush-hour bus in downtown Chicago couldn't banish the magic that Deakin conjures up. I felt transported to a forest at dusk, and could hear the wind in the trees. I think the word "enchanting" is overused in book reviews, but in this case I think it's the perfect adjective, this book is literally enchanting.
Profile Image for Ana.
628 reviews83 followers
December 29, 2021
I did not like the first chapter of this book where the author dwells on his genealogy and the link of his family names with words related to plants and forests.

I was starting to feel disappointed with my decision to purchase it, when the second chapter (about housesheds) began, and I loved it.

Then came a description of the author's study, all the objects in it and the memories they stirred. This one was mostly OK, although I found it a bit boring at times.

The book went on like this for a while, alternating between chapters I loved and others that I didn't find all that interesting and often resulted in my mind wandering somewhere else. But then, when I was more or less one third into the book, something happened. I don't know if I've got more used to Deakin's rich vocabulary, which I found a bit challenging in the beginning, or if the chapters became more interesting. Maybe it was a combination of the two. Anyway, I suddenly found myself deeply enjoying every single chapter and craving any spare time to go through a few more pages.

Through this book, I discovered several wonderful artists (John Wolsely having become a favourite among them), I traveled through central Asia and then back to the UK where I followed the author to his own Eden and shared his deep love for the countryside and all things related to trees. This is a beautiful book and now I understand why so many people loved it too.
Profile Image for Meaghan.
27 reviews7 followers
July 31, 2008
I am often apprehensive about reading nature writing because I am afraid that it won't hold my attention. I think in many cases something is lost in translation from the organic to the intellectual. Our inside and outside selves are kept separate entities these days. I have struggled recently with finding a way to bridge these two parts of my self (the nature-loving, spontaneous part with the studious, hard-working, methodical part). Deakin offered hope that it was possible to do this. Throughout "Wildwood" he connects prominent elements of society with the natural world as he has experienced it. I would have given this book five stars except that I think that it was written for a British audience and a few references were lost on me. Neverless, I have learned to look at not only the natural world but also the built world in new ways. Definitely give this book a chance yourself.
Profile Image for João Carlos.
646 reviews271 followers
April 30, 2015

Roger Deakin fotografado junto a uma nogueira na sua propriedade "Walnut Tree Farm"

“Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees” do escritor, documentarista e ambientalista Roger Deakin (1943 – 2006) é o “meu” livro.
Um tumor cerebral matou Roger Deakin seis meses após ter concluído o manuscrito de “Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees”.
Um livro, uma viagem literária e poética através das árvores, da floresta, da madeira, o “quinto elemento”, uma obra-prima da natureza.
Roger Deakin era um homem que amava a floresta e a natureza, gostava de referir que tinha seiva nas suas veias, nos anos 60 compra Walnut Tree Farm, uma pequena propriedade com cerca de uma dezena de hectares, na zona de Mellis, Suffolk, com uma casa em ruínas que vai recuperando.
E começa a fazer incursões na floresta e na natureza circundante, nas proximidades da sua casa e por toda a Inglaterra. Mais tarde visita inúmeros países, revelando uma paixão incomensurável pelas árvores e pelas florestas.

Na Parte Dois um dos capítulos é dedicado ao escultor inglês David Nash (n. 1945), um artista que trabalha a madeira e que faz esculturas com árvores “vivas”.

"Ash Dome,1977" - Escultura com 22 freixos plantados por David Nash, no País de Gales

E outro capítulo dedicado à pintora Mary Newcomb (1992 – 2008), com uma pintura que evoluí em função das cores e do ritmo da natureza.

"The brooding rook's heaven, 2001" - Mary Newcomb

Infelizmente, Roger Deakin, morreu cedo de mais…
Profile Image for Alison.
13 reviews5 followers
October 16, 2011
I love this book so much! I haven't finished reading it yet, because I want to savour it gently and slowly. I'm a country woman, born on the egde of a wood, brought up on the edge of another - and I felt as if Roger Deakin was telling me things I'd always known but never articulated properly. I have enjoyed exploring some of his themes - the woodcraft of David Nash, the painting of Mary Newcombe - I feel educated by the onw book. This is a book which has made me grow! I borrowed it from the library, and have bought 2 copies for my sister and my son. I need to buy myself a copy - I can't be without this book in my house!
Profile Image for Mark.
393 reviews302 followers
July 15, 2010
Once again, this book was a total inspiration. I now so want to go and find a little cabin somewhere in the midst of a wood so as to experience something of this man's wonder. Fantastic
Profile Image for Anna Gibson.
60 reviews5 followers
April 15, 2022
I read this via iBooks on my phone and so absorbed it in fragments during slow moments at work, waiting for the train and before bed. every time I picked it back up it made me feel that childish delight and curiosity in the outdoors and the woods I walk in every day. thoroughly recommend to be read in dribs and drabs
Profile Image for Andy.
679 reviews90 followers
November 22, 2022
Like sitting down with a charming enthusiast over a cuppa, the anecdotes and love of tree woods and nature come to life under Deakin’s prose. Not quite as good as Robert Macfarlane, but the RM built on works of this kind. Worth a hundred Overstorys
43 reviews2 followers
April 10, 2011
A great book, very detailed. The author takes you a very detailed journey with him through the woods, desert or wherever he is. It was like an escape, I read it in winter and I felt like like I was right there with him looking at nature. Would highly recommend for any nature lover of trees and fauna. I hope to read another book he has also written.
Profile Image for Sophy H.
1,214 reviews60 followers
December 27, 2022
I'm officially in love with the writings of Roger Deakin!

He writes nature as a blackbird sings, or a bird of prey rides thermals- effortlessly.

His books always strike the right amount of enthusiasm, knowledge, and personality.

I always feel a pure sense of wonder, awe, and contentment when reading him, as if I'm settling down in front of a roaring fire on a cold winters day, with a big mug of cocoa.

Blissful reading and absolutely recommended.

** A re-read in December 2022 leaves me with the same love for Deakin's nature writing. This meander through woods of every description is a delight to read. Deakin is naturally drawn to those who work with/tend to/create from wood, even when separated by language and culture such as when he travels to remote Kyrgyzstan. An excellent book which provides much to learn. **
Profile Image for Malene.
342 reviews
May 28, 2021
A wonderful and enriching journey through many countries and cultures in company of the author who explores the locations and local people's connections to native trees. Beautifully told and insightful on many levels.
Profile Image for Stephanie Jane.
Author 2 books229 followers
September 8, 2021
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

I was first drawn to read Wildwood by the late Roger Deakin because or having thoroughly enjoyed several of Robert Macfarlane's nature books. I understand that Macfarlane is now the literary editor of Deakin's extensive writings and I figured if Macfarlane appreciated Deakin's writing as much as I do Macfarlane's, then I would love this book too. Wildwood is a collection of essays encompassing many different topics, but all linked through their central theme being wood in one sense or another. Deakin recounts his travels across the world in search of one tree species or another, discusses the trees on his own land in Suffolk, and introduces artists such as David Nash who have made careers out of wood sculpture and art. To be honest, despite being quite a fan of sculpture itself, the arty essays were my least favourites because they did get too pretentious for my tastes. That said though, Wildwood, like an actual wood itself, frequently changes its makeup and appearance as we move through it, so it wasn't long before I was immersed in Deakin's travel memoirs instead. His search for the origins of our domestic apples in Kazakhstan reminded me strongly of a similar search through the history of pears in the brilliant Lost Feast by Lenore Newman, and I also loved Deakin's diversions into tree culture and folklore which I found fascinating. Wildwood probably is not best read from cover to cover - as I did, of course - but dipped into between other reads, a chapter at a time, over a period of days or weeks. Deakin is obviously very knowledgeable about his subject and, other than his frequent references to classic works I haven't read (he does like a good Shakespearean allusion), I found his writing style both informative and pleasantly engaging.
Profile Image for Rowan.
10 reviews
June 27, 2020
I don't want to call this book bad, because it's certainly well-written, but I think I just wanted it to be something else. I had expected more of a broad look at the ways in which trees have shaped human culture, with some personal accounts thrown in where relevant. Instead, the book is very autobiographical - each chapter is a personal essay of the author's travels to a place or a meeting with people. These accounts are, in theory, connected to the subject of trees, but in some cases the connection feels very tangential, and depending on where your interests lie, you may or may not find them engaging. Also since the chapters are mostly rather short, when I came across a topic that was interesting, I found myself wishing I could read more about that rather than moving onto something completely different and unrelated.
101 reviews1 follower
January 18, 2022
This excellent book had me walking alongside Deakin every step of the way. He reveals patiently how trees help define who we are, and their absolute importance in our lives, in terms of environmental, social, economic, and cultural benefit. More than objects of beauty trees give us purpose and positively influence well being.
March 9, 2021
It was so sad to turn over the final page of this much loved book.

Wildwood is a celebration of all living things, from the tiniest speck seen through a microscope to the thousand year old trees that hold tight to the ground beneath them. Roger takes the reader on his fascinating life journey with his intense curiosity of the world around him.

The journey starts at home, as many great journeys do, slowly circling outwards and then away, out accross the wide world, before returning to the familiarity of his beloved Walnut Tree Farm.

Almost every page contains a surprise, a nugget of delight, a fascinating observation, a 'something' that sent me scurrying to my computer straight away to find out more.

The journey travels accross the UK, taking in a charming and exciting account of his school botanical trips to the New Forest. Year after year the pupils would visit the same small area of the New Forest, building, layer upon layer, an impressively detailed map of the plants and wildlife there-

'Magnificant raft spiders Dolomedes fimbriatus, lived in 'great numbers' in Second Bog, and we observed how they would submerge, when alarmed by us, clasping little air-bubble diving bells like bright pearls for as much as 20 minutes at a time. We timed their dives with nerdish precision.'

Along with his love of trees he tells the reader about our ancient lands, and rituals, car building, artists, sculptors and so many more topics with the art of a top storyteller, keeping the reader wide eyed and enthralled by his words all the while keeping close to his theme of wood.

He travels accross Europe, then to their Eastern borders before he travels to the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan, to delve in to the fascinating story behind the origin of our domestic apple tree. His next stop is the Ferghana valley forests of Kyrgyzstan to visit the abundance of fruit trees and the wild and beautiful walnut trees that grow at a height of 6000 ft in this unique microclimate. This is a stunning part of the world. These few chapters are wonderful and they are worth reading on their own. They are so fascinating, informative, and utterly delightful. A balm for the soul.

So coming back home the chapters speak of British topics like hedge laying and coppicing.

The final chapter is 'Ash' which is one of his favourite trees-

'I live beneath the protective boughs of a sheltering ash.... I love it's natural flamboyance and energy, and the swooping habit of it's branches: the way they plunge towards the earth, then upturn, tracing the trajectory of a diver entering the water and surfacing. In March the tree is a candelabra, each bud emerging cautiously, like the black snout of a badger, at the tip of every branch. Sometimes the ash will send out it's branches in florid, Baroque spirals for no apparent reason except exuberance.'

Roger died in 2007 aged at 63, a year after this book was published, so he was not with us to witness the destructive ash-die back that arrived in the UK with a vengence in 2012. I think it would have broken his heart.

If you are looking for some solace in this world, or want to be entertained by the wonder in our natural world then 'Wildwood' could be the place you escape to.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,810 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2015
"Here, published for the first time in the United States, is the last book by Roger Deakin, famed British nature writer and icon of the environmentalist movement. In Deakin's glorious meditation on wood, the 'fifth element' -- as it exists in nature, in our culture, and in our souls -- the reader accompanies Deakin through the woods of Britain, Europe, Kazakhstan, and Australia in search of what lies behind man's profound and enduring connection with trees.

"Deakin lives in forest shacks, goes 'coppicing' in Suffolk, swims beneath the walnut trees of the Haut-Languedoc, and hunts bushplums with Aboriginal women in the outback. Along the way, he ferrets out the mysteries of woods, detailing the life stories of the timber beams composing his Elizsabethan house and searching for the origin of the apple.

"As the world's forest are whittled away, Deakin's sparkling prose evokes woodlands anarchic with life, rendering each tree as an individual, living being. At once a traveler's tale and a splendid work of natural history, Wildwood reveals, amid the world's marvelous diversity, that which is universal in human experience."
~~front flap

Why didn't I like this book? Given this description, it should have been 5 stars plus. I'm a rabid environmentalist and nature writing and natural history is one of my favorite genres. And I adored his other book Notes From Walnut Tree Farm -- it's one of my all time favorite books.

But this one ... it seemed pedantic, dull. One of the essays I read was a reminiscence of his student days, and then a return to that area of New Forest; in both essays I wasn't able to connect with the subject.

I struggled through 104 pages without the least bit of inspiration or bonding, so decided to give it up. Reading that description from the book cover, I wonder if I threw in the towel too soon? Perhaps I should dip into the book further along ...
Profile Image for Alicia.
303 reviews10 followers
November 17, 2017
Robert Deakin's writing is wonderful. He makes the many subjects of wood and the woods so interesting, something that could easily have been very bland. This book covers many aspects of wood and should be read more as a collection of essays rather than a running whole. Some of the chapters do follow a logical storytelling order, although others do not. Also take in mind that you won't find everything Deakin talks about to be interesting, he covers a wide array of subjects surrounding wood, and some things are just more interesting than others. I would say I found the majority of the book very interesting, there were only a few chapters that didn't do it for me. The book contains a wide variety of genres, from travel log to very descriptive nature writing, to explanations on how certain woodworking is done. The chapters on wood in other countries outside of Britain were particularly interesting and gave a nice impression of the nature in places such as Kazakhstan. One of the things I loved about the book was all the references to literature and art, which gave me lots of inspiration on other things to read and lots of artwork I would love to get printed out and hang in my house. Deakin's voice is like that of a knowledgable old friend with wonderful tales to tell. Another inspring read which falls in with other books I've read recently, with lots of references to self sustainability and the like.
27 reviews8 followers
March 13, 2016
I don't know what I was expecting from this book. Maybe an insight into the mythological impact of woods and how they have shaped our culture and our way of life.

Instead we have a sort of biography from a slightly odd old hippy who has a wooden railway carriage in his garden. The slightly make-shift nature of his house reflects the makeshift nature of the book, it flits from wood to wood and never really gets under the skin of the wood. Neither is his life very interesting. He seems to be a bit halfway between the wood and the town, living as he did as a furniture maker, with his family seeming to be very much townies. You're seeing a slice of British countryside, but it's very much a middle class slice- hanging out with lepidopterists, sculptors, eco-house guys and makers of gardens. Throughout I was asking myself- where is the real wood? What about yarrow and its association with death? Holly and its association with life? The poor coppicers who made their living from cultivating branches. Well, the later do make an appearance, largely as a historic curiosity. Apparently later in the book, he goes to woods overseas, but after around 150 pages I couldn't bring myself to read anymore.

If you want to read a good cultural analysis of woods without the boring biography element, I recommend "The New Sylva" instead.
Profile Image for Jason.
411 reviews27 followers
April 5, 2018
This book started of so well with his insight and imaginative descriptions of his woodland and communities that use them. Also the historical aspect of forest and woods and their uses was interesting, but it started to drag and seemed to be unnecessarily dragged out in areas and when he went abroad the links to woodland became tenuous and and boring and had the air of the old imperial englishman abroad. The exception being the fruit forests which was interesting but even this dragged on and he seemed to be given the red carpet but tried to play it down. The end of the book was gain semi educational but by then his overly flowery description and imagery had become tedious and you felt that this book could have been half the size especially as he seems to quote and talk about his favourite couple of books that inspired him and fill the pages of this book. This is the first book of the Roger Deakins that i've read and i'm not inspired to read more, would have been a more interesting book if he was more down to earth.
Profile Image for Christopher.
52 reviews6 followers
January 14, 2010
I read this book on the recommendation of Geoff Manaugh, the founder of BLDGBLOG.com (which is fantastic, by the way,a blog devoted to ‘architectural conjecture, urban speculation and landscape futures’) I am very glad that I found it. Not only is it fantastically well written, but it is such a simple and honest book about the pleasures of the woodlands, and of the experience of being in and around trees. For a seemingly limited topic, he covers a remarkable amount of ground, literally in some cases; visiting walnut forests in Kazakhstan, picking bush-plums with Aborigines in Australian outback, and even visiting the wood veneer production at the Jaguar factory in Coventry, UK. A wonderful, gentle, life-affirming book, made bittersweet by the death of the author, Roger Deakin, shortly after he finished writing it.
Profile Image for Ashy.
65 reviews3 followers
March 21, 2011
I really liked this book, there is something in it for everyone really, as the chapters are very diverse in subject matter, while still being liked by the overall theme of wood/trees. It reminded me of knowledge I already have and taught me interesting new things, and was a nice relaxed book to read gradually. There was the odd part that I skimmed over, but largely there was something about each chapter that caught my interest and kept me reading. The main reason for skimming was that I have a pile of books waiting and it has taken me three months to read this book, though it is not ridiculously long, I have just been slow. There are some lovely parts in this book that allowed me to relive feelings of being outdoors in a way that I rarely am these days and that was lovely. I would read more of his writing, as he has an easy, sometimes amusing, yet informative style.
Profile Image for Sonya.
259 reviews8 followers
January 10, 2018
This was probably my favourite read this year. It was akin, to me, of curling up in your dad's lap as a child, while he drones on about things that he adores that to you are simultaneously fascinating and mind-numbingly boring. And, like a dad, he is given to repeating parts of stories you've already heard. I really took my time reading this, because I haven't wanted it to end, and I think the book demands it. Deakin describes woodland scenes--which I think I for one take for granted--with a painstaking level of detail that really made me think about my suburban nonchalance about "trees" and "bugs." It was pretty humbling to face the fact that there's so much that I know so very little about, and so much beauty that I've hardly give a single thought to. I'm definitely going to find my own copy for re-reading. Just. Wow.
Profile Image for Shriram.
Author 1 book7 followers
October 2, 2012
How shall I begin reviewing..err..add my reviews to the universe of this book.

Once in a while (generally our lifetime), we come across a book that would literally change the world that we inhabit. It makes us question the very assumptions upon which we've based our life.

Wildwood, to me, is one such!

Never have I come across such a book on nature writing. In essence, it is about Wood, rather the imagination called Wood, in our lives. Here is a person who had lived where wood lived, not where the dead one is decorated into furniture.

The proficiency of his language elevates it to mystical levels.

Unfortunately, he is not with us anymore.

Simply put, I just didn't want this book to finish. A MUST READ for anyone interested in understanding our siblings, the wildwood.
Profile Image for Richard.
429 reviews5 followers
August 14, 2014
I just reread this book and it's a joy. Roger Deakin lived for many years in a ramshackle house that he repaired partially and shared with birds, bats and trees that in part held the house up.

He tells of the house and animals around him. He also ambles further afield and tells of how wood is almost the 'fifth element' in human life and how we in the west have lost sight of its value and of course as a consequence have devastated our native forests.

But it's an optimistic book by a man who lived and wrote about nature so beautifully.

Something you might not have considered reading but perhaps you should.
Profile Image for Bruce Hatton.
455 reviews61 followers
February 2, 2017
Roger Deakin's second nature book explores the enduring fascination for what he calls the "fifth element". The mythical and mystical nature of woodland and the use of wood in architecture, furniture and artworks. As well as British woods, he explores those of France, Greece, Ukraine, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Australia. His descriptions of the different national attitudes to woodland put me in mind of Simon Scharma's "Landscape And Memory", particularly concerning the historical and legendary importance of such places.
As in his other books, Deakin's knowledge of nature, history and literature is very impressive and informative.
Profile Image for Camilla.
37 reviews2 followers
November 13, 2011
I enjoyed Waterlog so much I was really looking forward to reading this. I grew up in the countryside and thought the hedge at the bottom of the garden was a giant forest. I did enjoy this very much, but it suffered in my eyes by not having the same parameters as Waterlog did- instead of being restricted to one location (the UK) this book takes a journey all round the world. Individual accounts were fascinating- i've already bored friends with tales about walnut harvesting, but I feel that this could have benefited from a bit more editing perhaps.
Profile Image for Harold Rhenisch.
49 reviews2 followers
February 13, 2018
Such a wonderful journey through the world among trees. There are chapters here of astonishing beauty, especially the coppice hedges of England, the wild walnut and wild apple forests of Central Asia, and even a chapter (too short) on workshops and craft. The book sprawls a bit. Easily, it could have been three separate books: Europe, Asia and Australia. Each would have been stronger than this whole, but there's no need to shy from the book from a weak editing decision. The book is strongest, after all, when Deakin gets away from home. If you love trees, this book is a treasure.
Profile Image for Clare.
166 reviews51 followers
November 13, 2015
I really do love this book, so calm and peaceful. You can hear Roger Deakin's calm tone coming through the pages. Perhaps that's why I didn't finish it. I got over halfway but you know, there's a lot of tree in there, in every form you can think of to stuff all at once. My excuse is I'm savouring it, I'll read it as I feel poped and grey and in need of Roger Deakin's beautiful wooded land.
Profile Image for Marie.
Author 1 book12 followers
February 12, 2018
Some authors you imagine you'd actually like in person, not just on the page. Others, not so much. While I greatly admire Virginia Woolf's writing, e.g., and Doris Lessing's, they both strike me as people I would probably not have got along particularly well with in real life, for reasons of culture and upbringing as much as anything else. Actually, come to think of it, I often have this feeling with regard to female authors. I assume, rightly or wrongly, that I would find them formidable or reserved or unfriendly or otherwise difficult one way or another. The authors I've always imagined myself getting along well with have all been male – De Montaigne, Thoreau, Dostoyevsky, Bachelard, De Botton, McGilchrist, Hardy, Rilke, Rumi... I imagine them possessing a certain geniality, matching their literary and philosophical brilliance, that would make them easy to like, easy to get along with, easy to talk to, without any appalling posturing necessary on either side.
[Which, as an aside, makes me wonder if brilliant women are not more often more bound up somehow with the particularity of the culture (of time, of place) in which they live and work, whereas equally brilliant men are somehow less tied to time and place making them easier to connect with across cultural divides or great spans of time...] De Montaigne was the first writer with whom I can remember feeling this shock of sympathy and concord, marvelling at how it could be that I could be pondering and feeling the very same things as someone who lived so long ago…
So some authors you not only feel you would like to know in person, but actually do already know. Roger Deakin is one of the latter. As is his friend, Robert Macfarlane. They reference one another in their respective books – or at least Macfarlane references Deakin a great deal (perhaps the result of a greater affection and/or generosity on his part?) – and as a result you as a reader of both writers can’t help but feel yourself enclosed in a sort of literary hortus conclusus. No doubt, unless the circumstances were just right, any real-life attempt to recreate this sense of closeness would probably be doomed to failure. In fact, I always avoid meet-and-greets with authors and musicians whose work I admire for this very reason: any encounter with a mere mortal is bound to always disappoint, partly because of the joint self-consciousness arising from the pressure of so artificial a situation, and partly because the version of them that one has nursed and harboured within one's mind – for a lifetime in some cases – can only bear the slightest of resemblances to a flesh-and-blood person living outside one's mind. This problem, however, is not likely to present itself where Roger Deakin is concerned as he has been dead for just over a decade.
As a lover of literature of ages past, I am used to moving largely within a circle of the dead. In some ways, as anyone who has lost a close friend knows, death can result in a feeling of appropriation of the dead person, as if a little part of them has come to live with you. They now belong to you in a way that they didn’t – couldn’t – in life. In just such a way, Roger Deakin has become a sort of house god or familiar for me and Chris. We reference him all the time, as an invisible presence on our travels – there’s a pond the Deakin would love, is that not the Deakin surfacing just over there, what would the Deakin think of this riverbank, etc. It may be silly, but I imagine “the Deakin” was actually very much in tune with just this kind of silliness. Thus, he lives on. On the shelf, in the mind, and in every pond, pool, and woodland I come to. And his books “Wildwood” and “Waterlog” become the best sort of books: paper-turned-portals where the reader-soul not only perceives the writer-soul, but encounters it, and so doing frees it from the page that seeds it…
Displaying 1 - 30 of 226 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.