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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

on 27 September 2017
Just been to Gilbert White's house and garden in Hampshire and could identify places from the book, thrilled to have the privilege to spend a sunny late summer day there. Some comments in the visitors book says thy should modernise. NO NO, what a mistake to make! It's charming like Richard Mabey's book, A lovely read, especially as I knew my way around the house and garden after reading this book. I have just finished it for the second time and will read it again when I want to visit this special place.
If you want to visit Gilbert White's Selbourne but can't get there in person yet, read this book, it will take you to visit, and when you get there eventually you will feel you are visiting an old friend.
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on 29 March 2017
A delightful account of Gilbert White's life and Selborne, accompanied by lovely black and white illustrations of both the countryside and of White's family members.
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on 19 June 2013
This is beautifully written and takes one back to 18th century England and the village it describes is much the same today. It was a lovely read, and made for sitting in a beautiful garden, with birdsong and a nice cup of tea. A comforting read and an interesting one too.
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on 13 September 2016
Always popular here in Selborne
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on 22 October 2015
The book arrived punctually and in good condition. I've enjoyed it very much.
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on 6 November 2016
interested in the countryside people and wildlife years ago this book is a must.i have 3 of Gilbert White books i would recommend all of them
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on 14 January 2011
Richard Mabey's elegant and straightforward book provides an almost uncanny window onto Gilbert White's life. It is written with such detail and sympathy -- no doubt aided by the voluminous letters and journals that were eventually condensed into The Natural History of Selborne -- that one gets an almost photographic picture of White going about his daily routines of cucumber harvesting, swallow observations, and tortoise experiments. While much of White's life at Selborne will be familiar to readers of the Natural History and his journals, Mabey fleshes out the chronology of White's early life and his personal relationships (especially with John Mulso, one of White's few close friends). Two features of this book particularly stand out. First is the setting, the village of Selborne itself. Mabey manages to convey an astonishing sense of place in his biography. Weather patterns and details of the physical environment were always on Gilbert White's mind, and they are never far away in this account of his life. Second is the personal affection that Mabey clearly feels for his subject. By the end of the biography, one feels so fond of White and his enthusiasms that a journal entry written towards the end of his life -- "Sad, blowing, wintry weather. I think I saw a house martin" -- brings its own pang of sadness.
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on 23 August 2017
I struggled with this book for two main reasons. The first one is that I think Mr. Mabey was desperately trying to write an interesting biography when really he’s not a very good writer of biographies. It has no flow; there’s nothing about it that makes you want to read on, to discover more about White’s life.

The second reason, which stems from the first, is that he is confusing. He quotes heavily from White’s vast correspondence with his immediate family members, distant relatives, clergy colleagues, neighbours, scientists etc. etc., and then goes into so much detail of these correspondents that he frequently lost me. Who is Mabey writing about now? Oh yes, Charles Lamb, who was writing a poem about Barrington, who, let me think, was the fourth son of Viscount Barrington, who knew Thomas Pennant, whom White met while visiting his brother Benjamin, or was it his brother Thomas … oh I’m completely lost now. Back to the start of the chapter to work out who all these people are. Or not.

And don’t say “well that’s because it’s a biography, and biographies go into all that detail.” No, I don’t buy that argument. I have read scores of biographies, and never have I come across one so confusingly difficult to read as Richard Mabey’s Gilbert White.

If you are a research student writing a thesis on Gilbert White, you will undoubtedly find much of interest here. If not, I wouldn’t bother picking it up.
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on 2 December 2016
An interesting and affectionate biography of one of the earliest naturalists in England. Mabey writes in a way that captures the spirit of the times, the landscape and Gilbert White himself. White's life seemed to be circumscribed by his deep reluctance to travel far from Selbourne, except to a few places he was familiar with. Mabey still makes the narrative interesting and must have done deep background research to fill out so much of the context of White's life. This book has stirred my interest in the 18th century generally.
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