|Born||Richard Thomas Mabey
20 February 1941
|Alma mater||St Catherine's College, University of Oxford|
|Occupation||Writer and broadcaster|
Richard Thomas Mabey (born 20 February 1941) is a writer and broadcaster, chiefly on the relations between nature and culture.
Among his acclaimed publications are Food for Free, The Unofficial Countryside, The Common Ground, The Frampton Flora, and a personal meditation on the nightingale, Whistling in the Dark. His life of Gilbert White won the 1986 Whitbread Biography of the Year. Richard Mabey devised, researched and wrote the ground-breaking bestseller Flora Britannica, which won the British Book Awards’ Illustrated Book of the Year and the Botanical Society of the British Isles’ President’s Award and was runner-up for the BP Natural World Book Prize.
Between 2000 and 2002 Mabey suffered with depression and his book Nature Cure, which describes his experiences and recovery in the context of man’s relationship with landscape and nature, was short-listed for three major literary awards, the Whitbread Biography of the Year, the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize for evoking the spirit of place and the J.R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography.
This was followed in 2007 by Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees (which will appear in a new revised and retitled edition – The Ash and the Beech: The Drama of Woodland Change – in summer, 2013), Weeds: The Story of Outlaw Plants (2010), and The Barley Bird: Notes on the Suffolk Nightingale (2010).
Richard Mabey contributes frequently to BBC radio. ‘The Scientist and the Romantic', a series of five essays in which he discussed his lifelong relationship with science and the natural environment, were broadcast in 'The Essay' on Radio 3 in 2009, and ‘Changing Climates’, on our everyday experience of living with the weather, in the same slot in 2013. The texts of both series have been published by Profile Books, titled respectively The Perfumier and the Stinkhorn, and Turned Out Nice Again.
In the 1970s and 80s he wrote and presented several television documentaries. He appeared in the 1975 BBC programme In Deepest Britain, with John Gooders and other naturalists, giving an unscripted narration of the wildlife observed during a country walk. He also wrote and narrated the 1996 BBC television series Postcards from the Country, for whose eight, 40- minute episodes he was series producer, as well as being the producer- director on four. He made a film for the BBC on Kew Gardens. His 'Unofficial Countryside' and 'The Flowering of Britain' were based on his books of the same names. 'White Rock, Black Water' was a specially-written film about the limestone Country of the Yorkshire Dales, and a Channel 4 8-part series - 'Back to the Roots' – explored the role of plants in Britain’s contemporary culture . In the 1990s he appeared regularly on BBC’s Country File.
Between 1982 and 1986 he sat on the UK government’s advisory body, the Nature Conservancy Council. He has been awarded two Leverhulme Fellowships, and honorary doctorates by St Andrews, Essex and East Anglia for his contributions to nature writing. He was awarded a Civil List Pension in 2008 for services to literature. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011. He is a Trustee of the arts and conservation charity Common Ground, Vice-President of the Open Spaces Society, Patron of the John Clare Society and President of the Waveney and Blythe Arts.
Mabey also writes regularly for The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Times and Granta. A selection of these writings was compiled as the book Country Matters. He has written a personal column in BBC Wildlife magazine since 1984, and selection of these columns has been published as A Brush with Nature.
Mabey was educated at three independent schools, all in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. The first was at Rothesay School, followed by Berkhamsted Preparatory School and then Berkhamsted School. He then went to St Catherine's College at the University of Oxford where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
After Oxford, Richard Mabey worked as a lecturer in Social Studies in Further Education at Dacorum College, Hemel Hempstead, then as a Senior Editor at Penguin Books. He became a full-time writer in 1974. He spent most of his life among the beechwoods of the Chilterns. He now lives in the Waveney Valley in Norfolk, with his partner Polly Lavendar, and retreats to a boat on the Norfolk Broads.
Portraits of Mabey
The National Portrait Gallery has a 1984 bromide print of Richard Mabey by Mark Gerson. Mabey sat for sculptor Jon Edgar in Norfolk during 2007, as part of The Environment Triptych (2008) along with heads of Mary Midgley and James Lovelock.
- ——. Food for Free.
- —— (1973). The Unofficial Countryside. Collins. ISBN 978-0002118552.
- —— (1974). Pollution Handbook. Penguin.
- —— (1977). Plants with a Purpose. Collins.
- —— (1978). The Roadside Wild Life Book. Sphere. ISBN 978-0722157114.
- —— (1980). The Common Ground: A Place for Nature in Britain's Future?. Hutchinson. ISBN 978-0091391706.
- —— (1983). Back to the Roots. Arena. ISBN 978-0099314509. (with Francesca Greenoak)
- —— (1983). In a Green Shade. Hutchinson.
- —— (1985). The Frampton Flora. Century. ISBN 978-0712608596.
- —— (1986). Gilbert White. Ebury.
- —— (1988). The Flowering of Kew. Ebury. ISBN 978-0712611343.
- —— (1988). The New Age Herbalist. Prentice Hall. (with Michael McIntyre)
- —— (1990). The Flowers of May. Collins & Brown. ISBN 978-1855850309.
- —— (1990). Home Country. Ebury. ISBN 978-0712637206.
- —— (1991). A Nature Journal. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0701135072. (with illustrations by Clare Roberts)
- —— (1993). The Wildwood, The: In Search of Britain's Ancient Forests. Arum. ISBN 978-1854102423. - photpgraphy by Gareth Lovett Jones
- —— (1993). Whistling in the Dark: In Pursuit of the Nightingale. Sinclair-Stevenson. ISBN 978-1856191760.
- —— (1994). Landlocked: In Pursuit of the Wild. Sinclair-Stevenson. ISBN 978-1856194327.
- —— (1996). Flora Britannica. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-1856193771.
- —— (1999). Country Matters: Selected Writings.
- —— (2005). Nature Cure. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0701176013.
- —— (2006). Fencing Paradise: The Uses And Abuses Of Plants. Eden Project. ISBN 978-1903919323.
- —— (2008). The Full English Cassoulet: Making Do In The Kitchen. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0701182533.
- —— (2007). Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-1856197335.
- —— (2010). A Brush with Nature.
- —— (2010). Weeds: The Story of Outlaw Plants. Profile. ISBN 978-1846680762.
- —— (2010). The Barley Bird: Notes on the Suffolk Nightingale. Profile.
- —— (2011). The Perfumier and the Stinkhorn. Profile. ISBN 978-1846684074.
- —— (2013). Turned Out Nice Again: On Living With the Weather. Profile. ISBN 978-1781250525.
- ——. The Flora of Hampshire. (co-author)
- Hill, Thomas (1988). The Gardener's Labyrinth - The First English Gardening Book. Oxford Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0192825803. (Editor)
- Cocker, Mark (2005). Birds Britannica. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0701169077. (Editor)
- Marren, Peter (2010). Bugs Britannica. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0701181802. (Editor)
- Jackson, Kurt (2012). A New Genre of Landscape Painting. Lund Humphries. ISBN 978-1848221024.
- Class (ed.), 1968
- The Natural History of Selborne (ed.), Penguin, 1977
- In Search of Food (with David Mabey)
- Cold Comforts, 1983
- Second Nature (ed.), 1984
- NHS Everyman (ed.), 1993
- Landscape with Figures: an anthology of Richard Jeffries (ed.), 1986-9
- The Oxford Book of Nature Writing, 1995
- The Yorkshire Dales (With landscape photographer Graham Nobles)
- The Garden of Weeds, 2010
Introductions and Forewords
- The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen, Viking Press, 1978, ISBN 009977111X
- Ashby, Eric (1989). The Secret Life of the New Forest. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0701134046.
- The Tree: A Celebration of Our Living Skyline, edited by Peter Wood, David & Charles, 1993), ISBN 0-7153-9481-9
- Nonis, U; Paul Sterry (1993). Mushrooms & toadstools of Britain and Europe. David & Charles. ISBN 0715301551 9780715301555 Check
- An Exaltation Of Skylarks, compiled by Stewart Beer, SMH Books, (1995), ISBN 0-9512619-7-5
- Lark Rise to Candleford (2009 edition)
- Wilkinson, David (2013). Keeping the Barbarians at Bay: The Last Years of Kenneth Allsop, Green Pioneer. Signal. ISBN 978-1908493842.
Educational and Children’s
- Pop Process (Hutchinson 1969)
- Behind the Scene
- Children in Primary School
- —— (1976). Street Flowers. Viking].
- Oak and Co.
- Postcards from the Country, BBC, 1996
- Richard Mabey's 2011 'Botanical Busk' tour (of the London canals, commissioned by the Floating Cinema)
- Countryfile. 2012-10-14. BBC.
- "IN DEEPEST BRITAIN (1975)". BFI. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "National Portrait Gallery - Large Image - NPG x25208; Richard Thomas Mabey". Npg.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- authors, various (2008). Responses - Carvings and Claywork - Jon Edgar Sculpture 2003-2008. UK: Hesworth Press. ISBN 978-0-9558675-0-7.
- "Richard Mabey's 2011 'Botanical Busk' tour". Retrieved 8 October 2012.