Monday, July 12, 2021

Book cover: "The Unofficial Countryside"

  • Title: The Unofficial Countryside
  • Author: Richard Mabey (1941-present)
  • Jacket design: Denys Ovenden (1922-2019)
  • Publisher: Collins
  • Year: 1974 reprint (first published 1973)
  • Pages: 157
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • Price: There's an oval golden sticker affixed to the bottom of the inside front flap of the dust jacket. It states "$7.95" and "CHAS. SCRIBNER'S SONS"
  • Provenance: Purchased from (I think I first read about Mabey's writing in an issue of Weird Walk or a similar contemporary zine, but now I can't find the reference.)
  • Excerpt from dust jacket: "Like his very successful Food for Free, Richard Mabey's new book is one that teaches us to look and to enjoy. His subject here is the natural history of city and suburbia, of all places where town meets country, where nature adapts itself to man's interference. It is the world of docks, reservoirs and canals; of roads and railways, bomb-sites and building sites and waste ground; allotments and gardens, rubbish tips, factory walls and all the odd corners of industrial Britain."
  • Dedication: "In memory of Kenneth Allsop, passionate defender of all our green places, without whose inspiration and encouragement this book would not have been written."
  • First sentence: Experiences have a way of staying naggingly out of focus until after you have been through them.
  • Last sentence: This most delicate of flowers, hounded by new roads and car-borne trippers, had found refuge amongst the clutter, and was having its revenge.
  • Random sentence from middle #1: It is amazing how romantic these pockets of ragamuffin greenery can begin to seem, nestling, like Frances Burnett's Secret Garden, behind the factory walls.
  • Random sentence from middle #2: I would wager that half our popular names for plants originated out of the imaginations of children.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4.08 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt #1: In 2017, Tim Pendry wrote: "Nearly half a century old, this fairly short but readable book captures the natural condition of the urban environment at that moment in the 1970s when a decaying industrial modernity was about to give way to environmentalism and a service economy.
  • Goodreads review excerpt #2: In 2018, Tom Jonesman wrote: "Undoubtedly one of those books that makes you look at the world differently."
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.8 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2014, "Dormouse of the north" wrote: "The author has just the easiest, most effortless writing style, and I shall be seeking out more of his work. I love this book so much I want EVERYONE to know about it. And that is the highest praise I can offer."

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