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Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick [Kindle Edition]

Jenny Uglow
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £11.99
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Book Description

At the end of the 18th-century Britain fell in love with nature. Thomas Bewick's History of British Birds 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 vanishing way of life of the country people of the North East.

In this superbly illustrated biography, Jenny Uglow tells 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.

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"Uglow's clear prose sparkles like Bewick's River Tyne." - Los Angeles Times "This is a lovely book, not just in the quality and sympathy of the writing but in the care of its design and illustration. Uglow has turned a rich but undramatic life into a vignette as full of interest and details as one of Bewick's own woodcuts." - Sunday Telegraph "A splendid biography. But it becomes an endearing one by the scattered presence of so many of Bewick's woodcuts." - Washington Post "Another triumph for England's most innovative biographer, and a marvelous treat for fans of Bewick's beguiling work." - Kirkus Reviews "A refined and engaging biography, as beautifully wrought, in its way, as Bewick's woodcuts." - New York Times"

Evening Standard

'Delightful ... Bewick always meant for his work to be accessible: 250 years after his birth, it still is.'

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read this year 6 Oct. 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had heard of Thomas Bewick, and had seen the occasional woodcut (especially of his rightly-famous birds), so I was delighted when this biography by Jenny Uglow came out From page one, Uglow makes Bewick come alive. Apart from a short, unhappy spell in London as a young man, Bewick lived all his long life in Northumberland, growing up in a small village and first learning, then perfecting , his trade in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He comes over as a dedicated artist, a devoted family man and a loyal friend. Yet Uglow doesn't sugarcoat him-his faults and weaknesses are here too.

I can't imagine how this biography could be bettered. Excellent lively writing, extensive research, fascinating subject living in a fascinating period of history (late C18th-early C19th ). The text is accompanied by engravings and, of course, by some of Bewick's own woodcuts.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature's Engraver 25 May 2007
By Jane
An enchanting book. I hadn't heard of Bewick, but seeing the lovely illustrations, I bought it. A charming story with most evocative woodcuts by this master engraver.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to Keep 19 April 2009
I'm predisposed to enjoy biographies, which I normally read in paperback. During the course of reading this one I ordered it in hardback to keep on my bookshelves. From it I formed the opinion that Thomas Bewick could be the most talented artist ever to breathe English air. His work, his enthusiasms and his enterprise were phenomenal. At the same time he was a simple man, ambitious not for himself but for his work. After reading the chapter on 'The History of Quadrupeds' I bought an 1807 edition for 100 pounds. To have prints from his original blocks printed by hand on handmade paper 200 years old is awesome. His talent was absolutely unique. 'Nature's Engraver' is indeed an inspiring book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wish I'd known him 16 Jun. 2009
Jenny Uglow brings Bewick so vividly alive that it's hard to believe he isn't still up there on Tyneside enjoying the birdsong. This biography is beautifully illustrated with his thumbnail-sized woodcuts; I'd never looked at them so closely before but what a world of detail and character and how amazing the way he captures the subtleties of a bird's feathers all in b&w. By the end of the book, I felt I knew the whole Bewick family and their wide social circle. How lively 18th century Newcastle seems (and what a lot we have lost to television!)
One thing that puzzles me ... what happened to Bewick's woodblocks, there must have been thousands of them? Are they destroyed, scattered - or in a museum collection? I know we can see the prints but I'd love to see wood cut by his hand. And his tools.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable and informative 25 Jan. 2009
By someone
Living just up the road from where Thomas Bewick was born and was inspired, this book has made me see my local surroundings in a new way. Jenny Uglow is a great writer of social history. She puts flesh on the bones of Bewick and his contemporaries and gives an insight into the ways of life, politics and leisure activities of the late 18th, early 19th century through her rigorous research into her subject matter. Im reading The Lunar men now and so far Im not disappointed
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding biography 28 July 2008
This is an outstandingly good biography of this amazing engraver whose work I have long admired. It is very easy to read and although he lived to a ripe old age, the story does not drag. Uglow evokes smoky, smelly, cramped Newcastle-upon-Tyne superbly and contrasts this with the wilds of Northumberland where Bewick grew up and where his heart remained. A must for anyone interested in history, art, countryside or just life!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close-up gorgeous 12 Jan. 2011
I have just one word of advice for anyone who is thinking of buying this lovely book and that is to seriously consider investing in a good (not necessarily expensive) microscope at the same time. That isn't meant as any criticism of the book or the many engravings it contains, it is just that the engravings are reproduced at (or close to) their original size and, in this case, the gods really are in the details. Under normal conditions these engravings are stunning but when viewed even more closely they are not far short of miraculous; how on earth anyone could engrave with such detail, not to mention warmth and humour, is quite beyond me.

Jenny Uglow is a wonderful writer and the text is a joy but it will always be the engravings themselves that you return to again and again and having the ability to examine them really closely will give you the opportunity to discover a whole new world in the background and fine details and a whole new level of enjoyment in the book.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the magic of good biography 8 Aug. 2007
I didn't know I'd heard of Thomas Bewick. You have, too, if you have read Jane Eyre. You've seen his influence if you've read Beatrix Potter. Bewick was famous and very influential until technology, in the form of photography, xerox, and the laser printer, rendered his art form obsolete. Imagine how difficult it would be to engrave the image of a lion when one had only ever seen one (1) in a traveling zoo. This is a fascinating book; I learned so much!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for a friend. One of my own favourites ...
Bought for a friend. One of my own favourites, so vivid you feel you're walking around his world with him
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Gillian Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Jane Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book
Published 3 months ago by Madboy
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Fascinating book with wonderful descriptions of life in Thomas Bewick's time. Some of my ancestors lived in the same area as Bewick so gave a wonderful insight as to what life may... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Clare Singleton
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Bewick was a master craftsman of his time in the wood engraving business. This book gives an excellent portrayal of his life and I would highly recommend it.
Published 20 months ago by Mr. David Newton
5.0 out of 5 stars An under-regarded genius!
Jenny Uglow's book on the life of the great Thomas Bewick is a gem. At the straightforward level of biography this is wonderfully readable, giving a vivid picture of a likeable and... Read more
Published 23 months ago by S. J. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful...
Beautifully written, wonderful prints of the engravings, really pleased with this product. I would recommend this to anyone interested in T Bewick and his work
Published on 14 Jun. 2013 by M. S. Kerry
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem
I'm pleading a special interest in this - I volunteer at Cherryburn in Northumberland which is the small National Trust property where Bewick was born and grew up and which... Read more
Published on 12 Mar. 2013 by mogs
5.0 out of 5 stars Well produced
I bought this book for research, but have found it a really good read and very well illustrated and very informative
Published on 18 Feb. 2013 by Margaret Telfer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading
An excellent portrayal of Bewick's life with some superb pictures of his engravings. Easy to read and fascinating. Highly recommended.
Published on 24 Nov. 2012 by Mr. David Newton
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