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As the celebrated author of Akenfield, Ronald Blythe, turns 100 this year, Next to Nature brings together a seasonal collection from the very best of a lifetime of writing.

Ronald Blythe lives at the end of an overgrown farm track deep in the rolling countryside of the Stour Valley, on the border between Suffolk and Essex. His home is Bottengoms Farm, a sturdy yeoman’s house once owned by the artist John Nash. From here, Blythe has spent almost half a century observing the slow turn of the agricultural year, the church year, and village life in a series of rich, lyrical rural diaries.

Beginning with the arrival of snow on New Year’s Day and ending with Christmas carols sung in the village church, Next to Nature invites us to witness a simple life richly lived. With gentle wit and keen observation Blythe meditates on his life and faith, on literature, art and history, and on our place in the landscape.

It is a celebration of one of our greatest living writers, and an unforgettable ode to the English countryside.

‘One of the great prose stylists on the twentieth century . . . a modern Hazlitt’ Mark Cocker
‘England’s greatest living country writer’ INDEPENDENT


(P) 2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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Reviews

Praise for Ronald Blythe
One of the great prose stylists on the twentieth century . . . a modern Hazlitt
MARK COCKER
Some of the most beautiful and precise prose in modern English . . . an expansive exploration of how land­scapes, humans, and words interact, touched with great humanity. . . He is our tribal storyteller, plugged into a common stream of inquisitive conversation that joins us as a species
RICHARD MABEY
England's greatest living country writer
Independent
Blythe's observations of nature are as unforced as breathing, and his descriptions are precise, celebratory and unexpected . . . [He] seduces even the irreligious reader into an appreciation of the meshing of the temporal and the timeless
Guardian
It would be difficult to find . . . a sensibility which is richer or better fed, more deeply watered and manured, more drenched in Englishness
ADAM NICOLSON
[His] minute observation of places, people and plants, his ear for scraps of dialogue and his feeling for poetry and painting make everything about those days immediate . . . [He has] a deep of love of the place ­- and of humanity
MAGGI HAMBLING
The best portrait of modern rural life in England, subtle and compassionate
ROGER DEAKIN, on Akenfield
[Ronald Blythe] is an English institution . . . he lives with a deep, authentic sense of wonder
TLS
The finest rural historian of our times
Country Life
The doyen of writers about the natural world in England
MICHAEL McCARTHY