The Jay, The Beech and the Limpetshell

Richard Smyth


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Icon Books
30 March 2023
ISBN: 9781785788024
224 pages

From the publisher

'Generous, moving and alive. A gift' - Tim Dee, author of Greenery

'Intelligent, thought-provoking and always, always interesting' - Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment

'Smyth writes with warmth and engaging perception about our relationship and understanding of the natural world on our doorsteps' - Jon Dunn, author of The Glitter in the Green

'Fresh and tender and playful' - Patrick Galbraith, author of In Search of One Last Song

Weren't they richer, rock pools, wasn't the seashore busier, when I was a kid?

Richard Smyth had always been drawn to the natural world, but when he became a father he found a new joy and a new urgency in showing his kids the everyday wild things around them. As he and his children explore rockpools in Whitley Bay, or the woods and moors near his Yorkshire home, he imagines the world they might inhabit as they grow up.

Through different objects discovered on their wanderings - a beech leaf, a jay feather, a limpetshell - Smyth examines his own past as well as that of the early natural historians, weaving together history, memoir, and environmentalism to form a new kind of nature writing: one that asks both what we have lost, and what we have yet to find.