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Flora Britannica Hardcover – 7 Oct 1996


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus / Sinclair Stevenson; 1st edition (7 Oct 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856193772
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856193771
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 3.6 x 28.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Richard Mabey is a naturalist and award-winning author and journalist. He won wide acclaim on the publication of the original Food for Free in 1972 - which has never been out of print since - and again with the publication of the colour edition in 1989. Among his many other acclaimed publications are Gilbert White (Whitbread Biography of the Year) and the ground-breaking bestseller Flora Britannica, which won the British Book Awards' Illustrated Book of the Year and the Botanical Society of the British Isles' President's Award and was runner-up for the BP Natural World Book Prize. He collaborated with Mark Cocker on Birds Britannica, and his book Nature Cure, described as 'a brilliant, candid and heartfelt memoir', was shortlisted for four prestigious prizes: the Whitbread Biography, the J.R. Ackerley for autobiography, Mind (for its investigation into depression) and the Ondaatje for the evocation of the spirit of place. He is an active member of national and local conservation groups and lives in Norfolk.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Rotgut VINE VOICE on 13 Oct 2008
Format: Hardcover
I recall hearing Richard Mabey discussing this book on a radio show, before it was published and thinking its premise: collecting contibutors' personal experiences of British plant life, seemed rather uninspired. Surely this kind of thing has been done to death? Nature magazine columns have been filled for years with people writing accounts of things they have seen in the British countryside.

When it was published, I was further put off by the high price of the book.

I was completely wrong on both counts, the price, when the size, scope and quality of the book are considered, seems more than reasonable. As to the premise of the work, Richard Mabey, a genius writer in my opinion, pulls all the various accounts from amateur contributors together into a cohesive and coherent whole, that manages to maintain the same well mannered and good humoured tone throughout its long length.

It is possible to read the book piecemeal, picking out species that interest you specially , but I feel reading it from cover to cover best allows the reader to appreciate what the author has achieved.

This is not an identification guide, although the photographs are of top quality, and the amount of space devoted to each species varies wildly, but the "Flora" succeeds in its aim to be a folk history rather than purely a Natural History work.

Beware of books that may seem to continue this work, e.g."Fauna Britannica", which do not, in fact, have much in common with this fine volume.
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143 of 151 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Mar 1999
Format: Hardcover
Once, even the most illiterate British home possessed a few books. Not just the obvious culprits like the bible or a world atlas, but the less recognised publications too, like the AA's UK Road Guide, Home-brewing for Beginners and, favourite of all, the Reader's Digest Guide to British Wildlife and Plants. The Reader's Digest guides don't seem to be around anymore, but never mind, because 'Flora Britannica' deserves to take its place in all our lives. It's richly-coloured photographs detail the flowers, plants and even weeds of the UK. Their stories, place in history, medicinal uses, recipes - even their appearance in nursery rhymes, they're all covered between the pages of this glorious book. Thousands of people all over the UK contributed to this book, and it shows. Every page feels like Mabey's labour of love. Apparently it took five years to put together and was a decade in the planning. I can believe it too. Buy the hardback, treat it like an old friend, pass it on to your children. 'Flora Britannica' is destined to be the an heirloom for the 21st century.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Oct 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a high quality books - with good photographs and decent length entries on the wild flowers, herbs and trees you'll know if you have grown up in the country.
The marvellous bit about it is the way the author has drawn from contributors all over the country who have passed on their local names, stories and memories about common British plants. A real storehouse to be read and enjoyed on those windy and wet days when you can't go out and look for yourself. Many people's memories are from childhood, a reminder that we often really get to know the plants and animals around us in our early years. So it is a book to keep and hand on.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jun 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good encyclopedia, with a lot of information about the history and uses of the various plants found in Britain. My only criticism is that the pictures show the plants in their natural habitat rather than close up. This means it is sometimes difficult to identify the plant from the picture. After saying that, this book is not a hady field guide that you would carry round anyway. It being 400+ pages.
As a home fererence work, I can reccomend it, and I have spent ages browsing through it's pages discovering interesting things about the plants that are all arround us.
Paul
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Jan 2011
Format: Hardcover
Flora Britannica is a book about the role of plants in human life, past and present. It is descriptive, discursive, witty and heart-warming. It is not an ID guide, oh no, not at all.

Mabey assembles folklore, ecology, poetry and anecdotes from a huge number of contributors, making this a unique sourcebook for anyone interested in our relationship with wild plants. Proper indexing makes it easy to find not just plants but associations - for example, there are index references to "Wind in the Willows", the Great Fire of London and Midsummer Day. There is even an appendix giving plants' common names in Gaelic and the Scots and Shetland norse dialects (though not, inexplicably, Welsh). An extensive bibliography is augmented by a list of contributors; another index links locations to photographs.

Mabey has taken great pains to make this a useful, as well as an enjoyable book. It is huge, and you'd dip into it rather than reading it cover-to-cover. Use it throughout the year, reading up on plants you have seen or might like to go in search of. For something lighter and more delicious, try the book's forerunner The Flowering of Britain, which is magical and inspiring, as well as being a racy and engaging read. A book on the folklore of plants which complements this book is The Englishman's Flora (Helicon reference classics) by Geoffrey Grigson
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