The Wild Places

Robert Macfarlane

Published: 7 July 2008
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781847080189


The Wild Places is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild. From the cliffs of Cape Wrath to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the salt marshes and estuaries of Essex and the moors of Rannoch and the Pennines, his journeys become the conductors of people and cultures, past and present, who have had intense relationships with these places. Certain birds, animals, trees and objects - snow-hares, falcons, beeches, crows, suns, white stones - recur, and as it progresses this densely patterned book begins to bind tighter and tighter. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story, an exercise in visionary cartography, and a work of natural history, The Wild Places is written in a style and a form as unusual as the places with which it is concerned. It also tells the story of a friendship, and of a loss. It mixes history, memory and landscape in a strange and beautiful evocation of wildness and its vital importance.

About the author

Image of Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane's Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination, won the 2003 Guardian First Book Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and was adapted by the BBC. It was also shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize for the Literature of Place, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountaineering Literature and the Banff Mountain Literature Award and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It was acclaimed as 'one of the two most important books written around the experience of mountains in the past fifty years'. His next book, The Wild Places, was adapted as part of the BBC's Natural World series. Robert MacFarlane is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He lives in Cambridge with his family. More about the author


‘A beautifully modulated call from the wild that will ensorcell any urban prisoner wishing to break free’ Will Self



‘A driven and necessary account of the wild places of these islands, near or remote, as they can be located and possessed within ourselves: in good heart, in hungry intelligence. Rich, sinewy prose to set on the shelf alongside works by Roger Deakin, Richard Mabey, Tim Robinson’ Iain Sinclair

‘A love song to these islands, an elegant and heartfelt testimony to the value of landscape that we remain in acute danger of destroying forever ... Macfarlane, with his luminous prose and his passionate sense of the importance of wildness for humanity, is Deakin's natural inheritor. There is no higher praise possible than to say that this book stands as a worthy memorial to him’ Olivia Laing

‘A lovely book by a sublimely civilized writer - honest nourishment for the mind and true enhancement for the spirit’ Jan Morris

‘In what will surely come to be seen as one of the classic texts of British nature writing, he begins to understand that wilderness is not an entity distinct from the human world, but rather an irrepressible process which occurs everywhere alongside it’

‘Literary, historical and scientific insights give The Wild Places depth, but its fascination comes from the close observation that Macfarlane shares with Barry Lopez, Kathleen Jamie and other pilgrims to the more surprising parts of our natural environment’ James Urquhart

‘Of all the beautifully written explorations of Britain's wild places, this book is the cream of the crop’ Christopher Summerville

‘Robert Macfarlane's extraordinary first book took a stance against the conventionally heroic; his second as boldly celebrates places that aren't supposed to exist. And The Wild Places does so in prose that is at times very nearly as vivid and beautiful as the thing itself: in his sentences there are sudden clearings, shafts of light, unexpected crossroads of ideas, views opening into the distance, close-ups of important flora and fauna. The book strides along through places, histories and ideas with a distance-walker's gait and a nature lover's pauses’ Rebecca Solnit

‘This book is an eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we're laying waste the world, nature still holdssway over much of the earth's surface, even in a place as crowded and civilized as Britain. I found it one of the most oddly comforting books I've read in a long long time’ Bill McKibben (author of THE END OF NATURE)

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