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A wide-ranging and timely new perspective on writing about the natural world and our place within it

The purpose of this anthology is to look at writing about nature from a new and different perspective and to illuminate the writing of women, over the centuries and up to the present day, who have written about and are writing now about the natural world in the islands of Britain, Ireland and the outlying islands of our archipelago.

There has, in recent years, been an explosion of interest in writing about place, landscape, and the natural world. This renewed fascination with the genre of nature writing coincides with a critical moment in our planet’s history. The renaming of this current geological age as the anthropocene is an acknowledgement of the extent to which human activity has become the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Exciting new voices have emerged in response to the challenges this represents. But despite the blossoming interest in writing about the natural world, women’s voices, especially within our archipelago, have remained very much in the minority.

Alongside the traditional forms of the travelogue, the walking guide, books about the observing and naming of birds, plants and wildlife, Women on Nature will investigate and embrace other ways of seeing and recording. I will sift though the pages of women’s fiction, poetry, household planners, gardening diaries and recipe books to show the multitude of ways in which women have observed and recorded the natural world about them, from the fourteenth century writing of the anchorite nun Julian of Norwich, to the seventeenth century travel journal of Celia Fiennes; through the keen observations of Emily Brontë of Haworth Moor in Yorkshire, to the brilliant new voices throughout the archipelago writing today.

Women on Nature represents a scintillating vision of the natural world which, in addition to being a rich anthology and a cracking read, will be of unique importance in terms of education, women’s history, and the history of writing about nature.

Katharine Norbury trained as a film editor with the BBC and has worked extensively in film and television drama.  The Fish Ladder is her first book, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Wainwright Prize, long listed for the Guardian First Book Award and was a Book of the Year in the Guardian, Telegraph and Observer newspapers. She was The Observer's rising star in non-fiction, 2015. Katharine is a graduate of the UEA M.A. in Creative Writing and currently teaches writing about place to U.S. undergraduates studying abroad with CAPA Global Education. She is a literary critic for the Observer and has contributed travel pieces for the Guardian and Lonely Planet magazine.

One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on a bank of heath on the middle of the moors, with bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up over head, and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That was his most perfect idea of heaven's happiness: mine was rocking in a rustling green tree with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds flitting rapidly above; and not only larks, but throstles, and blackbirds, and linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side, and the moors seen at a distance, broken into cool dusky dells; but close by great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze; and woods and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with joy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstacy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle, and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive, and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine, and began to grow very snappish. At last, we agreed to try both, as soon as the right weather came and then we kissed each other and were friends.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Read more...

Autumn

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Porthddaisies

As this long hot summer finally slips behind us I am hunkering down to the task of sifting through the words of dozens of women, written over hundreds of years, and finally beginning to tease Women on Nature into existence. There is new writing, too, with essays by Jessica J. Lee, who wrote the wonderful "Turning" - about a year of lake swimming, and Anita Sethi, who has written an account of…

98% funded!

Monday, 28 May 2018

 I’m absolutely delighted to say we are only 2% short of the funding target. Huge thanks to all of you for getting us this far. This anthology promises to be a glittering collection of women’s writing about the natural world. One last little push is all it needs - please do encourage family and friends to preorder Women on Nature - remind them the ebook is only a tenner! Warmest wishes and heartfelt…

I have had the most extraordinary vision!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Meadow

Dear Friends,

I have woken up with the most extraordinary vision! To create a patchwork, an interconnecting network, of locally sourced wildflower hay meadow corridors that run the length and breadth of our archipelago, and using a percentage of the profits from Women On Nature to fund it. Working title... ask me when I've had a coffee. The Wildflower Haymeadow Initiative?

I've been trying to…

Women on Nature

Monday, 5 March 2018

When Unbound asked if I would be interested in curating an anthology of women’s writing about the natural world, I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been done already.  When Susan Griffin published her controversial book Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her in 1978 it became a deeply controversial cornerstone of feminist literature. It’s starting point was that women were somehow perceived to be  ‘closer…

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Helene Clay
Helene Clay asked:

Hello, what a great project! Will it be an anthology of already published work, or are you looking for fresh material?

Katharine Norbury
Katharine Norbury replied:

Hi Helene
Please forgive the delay in replying - I locked myself out of the account! The anthology will be about 80,000 words and cover about 700 words. I will be including new material but I'm not sure how much of that which I already have I will be able to include, simply as a matter of space. Are you a writer? (Forgive me I am not familiar with your work, if that is the case). Best wishes, Katharine

Alexi Francis
Alexi Francis asked:

Hi Katharine,

I guess you're really busy with this but I hope you don't mind me asking, are you looking for any nature writing pieces for the anthology? I was in the process of writing a book of nature writing exploring wildlife encounters through dusk, night and dawn. I'm no longer continuing with the project at present but I do have various short pieces (around 800-1000 words) about being in the natural world. I just wondered whether you'd be interested in seeing any?

I have been published in the Seasons anthologies (Elliott and Thompson), literary journals and websites and I won a year's mentoring with Amy Liptrot. Some of my writing can be seen on my website here: http://www.alexifrancis.co.uk/

If you need any illustrations I do pen and ink work too.

I totally understand if you're not interested or have enough material.

I'm looking forward to reading the book,

Best wishes

Alexi Francis

Katharine Norbury
Katharine Norbury replied:

Hi Alexi, have DMed you.

Jilly Stanton-Huxton
Jilly Stanton-Huxton asked:

Hi Katharine, I've just read about this in the April edition of The Countryman. It sounds like an exciting and rewarding project to be working on. I am a freelance writer and (most recently) author, having just published my first children's book 'Harvey and the Moon Bus'. I am also a Nature writer and have had several articles published, the most recent 'The Enchanted Wood' in This England. If you need new material for the anthology please let me know. Good luck with the project...I will now be making a pledge and sharing this for you. Best wishes Jill Stanton-Huxton

Katharine Norbury
Katharine Norbury replied:

Jilly, thank you for your support. I will DM you via twitter!

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