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Jeremy Mynott All Authors »

About The Author

Jeremy Mynott photographed by Charlie TromanJeremy Mynott (author photo by Charlie Troman) has spent most of his working life in publishing, moving up from editor to chief executive at Cambridge University Press. He is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.

He has had a life-long interest in ornithology. For the last 25 years he has lived in Suffolk, where he is a regular birdwatcher. His other favourite locations around the world include the Hebrides, the Isles of Scilly, the Volga Delta and New York's Central Park.
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BirdscapesHe is the author of Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience, a unique meditation on the variety of human responses to birds, from antiquity to today, and from casual observers to the globe-trotting 'twitchers' who sometimes risk life, limb, and marriages simply to log new species.

Drawing extensively on literature, history, philosophy and science, Jeremy puts his own experiences as a birdwatcher in a rich cultural context. His sources range from the familiar - Thoreau, Keats, Darwin and Audubon - to the unexpected - Benjamin Franklin, Giacomo Puccini, Oscar Wilde and Monty Python.

The book also features extensive illustrations, featuring the many different representations of birds in images as diverse as national emblems, women's hats, professional sports logos and biscuit tins, as well as classics of bird art.

Here Jeremy picks the ten books on birds that have most influenced and informed him and tells us a little about why each one is such an engaging read.


Author Picks

The Peregrine: The Hill of Summer &...
J. A. Baker; Mark Cocker; John Fanshawe
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The best edition is the 2010 one from Harper Collins, edited by Mark Cocker and John Fanshawe, which also contains Baker’s wonderful Hill of Summer and some interesting extracts from his diaries. Baker draws on both close observation and literary imagination to fashion his startling metaphors and extraordinary prose and has an almost shamanistic identification with the wildlife he responds to so sensitively.
The Natural History of Selborne
Gilbert White; Richard Mabey
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Orignally published in 1789, there are many editions, including this Penguin abridgement edited by Richard Mabey. White is the founding father of the 'nature diary' as a genre, who carefully chronicles the seasonal changes in his small parish in loving detail and so demonstrates that even the most parochial records can be of universal interest. The original ‘local patch’ worker.
The Barley Bird: Notes on a Suffolk...
Richard Mabey; Derrick Greaves
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A classic study by the doyen of nature writers, at once scholarly, entertaining and cheerfully opinionated. He explores the mystery of this drab, elusive bird, whose extraordinary song has captivated poets, princes and scientists alike, and tries to understand the meaning(s) it has had for us.
Birds and Light: The Art of Lars Jonsson
Lars Jonsson
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His illustrations of birds in field guides have always had an unrivalled sense of animation, movement and characteristic jizz. This volume is a selection of his field sketches and watercolours which display his mastery in conveying fleeting impressions of moving subjects in changing light and weather conditions: instants of perception. There are also very intelligent diary notes and commentary.
The Birds and Other Plays
Aristophanes; Alan H. Sommerstein;...
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A great comic play, which constructs a fantasy of a ‘cloud cuckoo land’ where stressed Athenians hope to escape their financial worries and high taxes (sound familiar?) but have first to negotiate with a group of well-organised (and highly symbolic!) birds.
Birds Britannica
Birds Britannica (Hardback)
Mark Cocker; Richard Mabey
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An encyclopaedic treasure trove of the stories, anecdotes, traditions and folklore that explains the importance birds have had in the cultural inheritance of Britain and their current status today, all miraculously woven into one stylish and colourful narrative. An Aladdin’s cave of information and ideas, with a wonderful native guide.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth,...
Peter Tate
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A quietly thoughtful selection from the huge corpus of folklore about birds, focussing on the thirty of so species that seem most often to attract such traditions and so become carriers of symbolic meaning more generally for us.
Season Songs
Season Songs (Paperback)
Ted Hughes
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Hughes is one of the most powerful imagists in the language and his portraits of wildlife and landscape have a compelling, precise and unsentimental sense of what is so other in nature. This collection includes brilliantly perceptive poems on such familiar species as swift, swallow, song thrush and starling.
John Clare: Selected Poems
John Clare; Jonathan Bate
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This Faber edition has a great introduction by Jonathan Bate, although The Wood is Sweet, edited by David Powell (now out of print), has the advantage of illustrations by the artist Carry Akroyd which evoke Clare’s spirit particularly well. Clare’s poetry of the natural world combines precise observation and passionate affinity into a unified sense of wonder, both simple and wise. And this is made the more poignant by his growing sense of bereavement and despair, as he progressively lost his landscapes and with them his own identity.
The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated...
Tim Birkhead
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A superb piece of scientific popularization. As a leading ornithologist the author is committed to the importance of disciplined and testable scientific research on bird behaviour and ecology, but is also (and much more unusually) a real expert at conveying its significance and excitement to a large lay audience. The book is a very engaging and well-written blend of science, history and personal experience. His new book, Bird Sense, has all the same virtues.

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Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination...
Jeremy Mynott
 
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