Tuesday, April 17, 2012

N IS FOR....

N  IS  FOR....
NATURE 
This is one of my favorite subjects.  In elementary school we used to call it Nature Study, go for nature walks and set up a nature table in the classroom.  The things I learned about NATURE nearly seventy years ago have stayed with me to the point that although I left England fifty years ago, I will still come across a picture of an English wild flower. a seedpod or a bird and instantly recall its name.


So when I was recently visiting Claude's blog I was fascinated by a photo of a page from an English Nature Study book that not only encompassed my love of the subject but incorporated my love of water colors.


British bloggers may be entirely familiar with this book, but I had never heard of it or seen it.  It was entirely handwritten and drawn in 1906 but was not discovered until the seventies, when it was finally published. It was apparently on the best seller list in Britain for 236 weeks.  Understandably, as far as I know it never made the realms of published books over here because its contents were purely of British interest.


I am greatly indebted to Claude's friend Brandelldick who took the time to contact me and give me the name of the author, title and publisher.  A quick search of eBay and I found a copy -- for $6!  It's original price was 15 pounds sterling.  My copy arrived in perfect condition and its contents were all I could have hoped for.


So let me introduce you to my new treasure, courtesy of Blogland.
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
written and illustrated entirely by hand, by Edith Holden

The Willow Warbler illustrated on the front cover has a whispery bubble of notes that fade softly away -- and is a sure indication that summer is here.  It can be heard gently calling through woods and copses most days of summer.

The frontispiece for the book quotes an appropriate poem by the romantic -- and rakish, Lord Byron.


Every page of the book  -- 176 of them -- is illustrated in water colors of birds, trees, flowers and insects. 


Each month of the year is explained and described in careful lettering, giving information of what can be found in the countryside at that time of the year  and includes appropriate and carefully selected quotations and poems.


Who knew why August has 31 days and not 30?
And I love those bumblebees on the thistles.



And this is my favorite picture of all.  Yes, I'm old enough to remember when horses pulled the plough -- good old lumbering, heavy-footed Belgians.  This could easily be a scene from the fields behind my house when we lived in Flamborough.

******
This blog is my entry for the letter N at Mrs. Nesbitt's wonderful and popular project, ABC WEDNESDAY.  Click on the link and see all the other inspiring entries.

21 comments:

Wanda said...

Oh Christ....what a treasure!!!

So unique and lovely watercolors. Those details, and I love the horses and plow.

Just fancinating...

Scriptor Senex said...

But, of course, you and I would choose the same word for N, Chris!

I think just about everyone over here fell head over heels in love with the book but in fact there are many others of a similar nature (no pun intended) that I have collected over the years because they combine two of my loves - nature and diaries. A kot of th3ese are virtualky unknown (and therefore may be cheap). I'm very busy at the moment but I shall send you a little list one day and you might like to see if ypu can get hold of one of two.

Leslie: said...

This is SO beautiful and I can understand why you are so happy to have a copy! LUCKY~~~

Leslie
abcw team

photowannabe said...

I don't blame you for wanting that book at all. Its beautiful and the watercolors are wonderful.

Reader Wil said...

I agree with you that this is a beautiful book. I have it myself and use it in my blogs once in a while. I have it in
English and in
Dutch. Thanks for sharing it ! Have a great week.Wil, ABC Team.

claude said...

Oh Chris ! I am glad you could find this book. It is very beautiful and I am proud to get from Yvette a few pages for illustrating my blog.
I hope she will sent me some for next May.
Great post, Chris !

snafu said...

I recall that book arriving on the scene and being in the top selling list for seeming ages. I had never read it but admired it from afar so to speak.
Presumably there was never an emperor Feburus or February would be longer.

Honest Abe said...

I will have to get this book. I love it. I used to sit on the back of Belgian horses when I was about 10. I could not get my legs over their backs and down along their ribs. Just too wide. Loved to sit there and dream about being a knight or something when the horse was in the stall eating oats. Those were the days.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

We have that book on our shelves, too! Thanks for helping make it more widely-known!

Rosie said...

What a lovely post! I remember nature walks and nature tables from my junior school days. I also remember when Edith Holden's writing and illustrations became popular even down to inspiring other things like stationery, bedding and curtains. It was hugely popular in the 1970s:)

Mac n' Janet said...

I've owned this book for years, glad you discovered it, they made a movie of it too.

Dartford Warbler said...

My mother had Edith Holden`s lovely books and now they are on my bookshelf. Beautiful and delicate watercolours of the English countryside.

Chris - I wonder if you have come across the books of watercolour artist Gordon Beningfield? He has a wonderful way of capturing the English landscape. His books illustrating Thomas Hardy`s poetry and Hardy`s native Wessex are particularly good.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I have this book and love it. I bought it when it was first published and since have acquired other books which refer to Edith Holden.

Roger Owen Green said...

It is a wonderful-looking book, one I had never seen...
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Ann said...

I could spend hours strolling through those beautiful pages. I collect vintage gardening books and this one is a jewell.
Ann

chubskulit said...

Thistles are beautiful!

Nursing to Nuclear Medicine
Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

kaybee said...

Thisis a lovely post, Chris, and, guess what?! I have just bought a copy on ebay! Cam't wait to receive it!

Alan Burnett said...

Goodness, I remember Nature Studies at school now that you have mentioned it. I had forgotten all about it (as a subject rather than as a field of study) until you mentioned it so thanks for bringing back memories.
As far as our trip to Scarborough was concerned we didn't get chance to visit Flamborough, but next time we will try and get there.

claude said...

Hi Chris !
Thanks for your writting in french. You know my english is not better.
My big dictionnary helps me a lot!

Gattina said...

Oh my word ! what wonderful books ! real treasures !

Morning's Minion said...

Like others commenting before me, I have enjoyed Edith Holden's book.
Her death was tragic--she drowned after falling into a river near her home. It was assumed she had been reaching for an over-hanging branch of chestnut.
If I had the ability to draw or paint I would surely fill many pages of a sketchbook with flowers, birds... all the wonderful small details of NATURE.