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Nature’s Engraver

A Life of Thomas Bewick

Thomas Bewick’s (1753–1828) History of British Birds was the first field guide for ordinary people, illustrated with woodcuts of astonishing accuracy and beauty. In Nature’s Engraver, Jenny Uglow tells the story of the farmer’s son from Tyneside who became one of Britain’s greatest and most popular engravers. It is a story of violent change, radical politics, lost ways of life, and the beauty of the wild—a journey to the beginning of our lasting obsession with the natural world.

 “A refined and engaging biography, as beautifully wrought, in its way, as Bewick’s woodcuts.”—New York Times

“Uglow’s clear prose sparkles like Bewick’s River Tyne.”—Los Angeles Times

“This is a lovely book, not just in the quality and sympathy of the writing but in the care of its design and illustration. [Uglow] has turned a rich but undramatic life into a vignette as full of interest and details as one of Bewick’s own woodcuts.”—Sunday Telegraph

 

“A splendid biography. But it becomes an endearing one by the scattered presence of so many of Bewick’s woodcuts.”—Washington Post

 

“Another triumph for England’s most innovative biographer, and a marvelous treat for fans of Bewick’s beguiling work.”—Kirkus Reviews

 


480 pages | line drawings throughout | 6 x 9 | © 2006

Art: Art--Biography

Biography and Letters

Reviews

“A refined and engaging biography, as beautifully wrought, in its way, as Bewick’s woodcuts. . . . Its quiet, cumulative power is in describing the value of a lifetime of paying attention, of seeing what is all around us--and of approaching the world with a heart full of love and wonder."

Dominique Browning | New York Time

“This is a lovely book, not just in the quality and sympathy of the writing but in the care of its design and illustration."

Michael Prodger | Sunday Telegraph

“A splendid biography. But it becomes an endearing one by the scattered presence of so many of Bewick’s woodcuts.”

Washington Post

"[Bewick’s] work surprised peopple almost as much as it pleased them. Wordsworth was one of the first to praise it. Charlotte Bronte made Jane Eyre thrill to it. One of the charms of this beautifully produced biography is that it restores their original power to little works of art. . . . Uglow’s evocation of the mood of his times is as detailed and good as her portrait of the man."

The Economist

"[Bewick] was a fascinating human being whose life, told by the gifted biographer Jenny Uglow, in this beautifully illustrated little book, embodies the philosophical and political cross-currents of his times. . . . Uglow already has a justifiable reputation as one of the country’s best biographers; this fabulous book will only enhance it."

Paul Riddell | Scotsman

"In its rich detail and narrative structure--as pleasurable as one of Bewick’s vignrettes--this is popular biography at its best."

Anne Secord | Isis

Table of Contents

Maps

Prologue: A Plain Man’s Art

I Source
1. The Banks of the Tyne

2. Nature and Drawing

3. The Common

4. ’Beilby’s Wild Lad’

5. Life in the Town

6. Pretty Histories

7. ’God Gave the Earth to You’

II Stream

8. North and South

9. Partner

10. ’Esto Perpetual!’

11. Walking

12. Bell and John

13. Among the Animals

14. Quadrupeds

III Flood

15. From Fur to Feathers

16. ’Your Lads’

17. ’Red Nightcap Days’

18. Daily Bread

19. Land Birds

20. On His Own

21. Home and Friends

IV Tide

22. Water Birds

23. ’With Bewick, I Was Then Happy’

24. Back to Business

25. Shifting Ground

26. Fame, Fables, and Apprentices

27. Taking Stock

28. Salmon and Swallows

29. Sore Tired

Epilogue: Nature’s Engraver

Acknowledgments

Workshop Apprentices

Abbreviations, Sources and Notes

List of Illustrations
Index

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