||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)
Nature writing is generally defined as nonfiction prose writing about the natural environment. Nature writing often draws heavily on scientific information and facts about the natural world; at the same time, it is frequently written in the first person and incorporates personal observations of and philosophical reflections upon nature.
In This Incomparable Land: A Book of American Nature Writing, Thomas Lyon suggests that nature writing encompasses a spectrum of different types of works, ranging from those that place primary emphasis on natural history facts (such as field guides) to those in which philosophical interpretations predominate. Some of the subcategories he identifies include natural history essays, rambles, essays of solitude or escape, and travel and adventure writing.
Modern nature writing traces its roots to the works of natural history that were popular in the second half of the 18th century and throughout the 19th, including works by Gilbert White, William Bartram, John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, Richard Jefferies, and other explorers, collectors, and naturalists. Henry David Thoreau is often considered the father of modern American nature writing. Other canonical figures in the genre include Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Burroughs, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, M. Krishnan, and Edward Abbey (although he rejected the term for himself).
List of nature writers by country
- J. A. Baker, The Peregrine (1967).
- John Clare (1793-1864), natural history prose and poetry.
- William Cobbett, Rural Rides (1830).
- Mark Cocker, Crow Country (2007).
- Roger Deakin, Wildwood (2007).
- Robert Gibbings, Sweet Thames Run Softly (1940).
- Philip Hoare, Leviathan or, the Whale (2008).
- W. H. Hudson, Afoot in England (1909).
- Richard Jefferies, After London; Or, Wild England (1885).
- Richard Mabey, Weeds (2010).
- Gavin Maxwell, Ring of Bright Water (1960).
- Oliver Rackham, Woodlands (2007).
- Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain (1977).
- Edward Thomas, The South Country (1906).
- Gilbert White, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789).
- Simon Schama, Landscape and memory.
- Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter (1928).
- Dorothy Wordsworth.
- William Wordsworth.
- Finch, Robert, and John Elder, eds. The Norton Book of Nature Writing. New York: Norton, 1990; Nature writing: the tradition in English. edited by Robert Finch and John Elder. New York: W.W. Norton, c2002.
- Keith, W. J., The Rural Tradition: William Cobbett, Gilbert White, and Other Non-Fiction Writers of the English Countryside. Hassocks, Sussex: Harvester, 1975. This book has a useful bibliography.
- Lyon, Thomas J., ed. This Incomperable Lande: A Book of American Nature Writing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
- Mabey, Richard, The Oxford Book of Nature Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
- Price, Jenny. Writers' Block. Conservation 8(2). "Earnest, pious, and quite allergic to irony: nature writing has none of the trademark qualities that play well in 2007. So is it time for a change?"
- Stewart, Frank, A Natural History of Nature Writing. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1994.