A Land by Jacquetta Hawkes
(Collins Nature Library)

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The Collins Nature Library is a new series of classic British nature writing – reissues of long-lost seminal works. The titles have been chosen by one of Britain’s best known and highly-acclaimed nature writers, Robert Macfarlane, who has also written new introductions that put these classics into a modern context.

A Land is Jacquetta Hawkes’ seminal work, and a classic piece of British Nature writing. It is the history of the shaping of Britain and its people from the first, lifeless, Pre-Cambrian rocks to the days of the ice-cream carton and the hydrogen bomb.

First, as an archaeologist and geologist, Hawkes paints a picture of the creation of Britain from the very first forming of the earth’s crust, through periods marked by lifeless worlds of rock, water and air, to the first emergence of life that senses its surroundings. The worms and trilobites mark the beginning of the story of life that evolves through the great reptiles, dinosaurs and finally humans.

This is science writing at its very best. Engrossing stories, curious facts and powerful narrative combine under the umbrella of poetic writing and unadulterated passion for the subject.

Widely lauded on its publication, this is an exposition of complex science in a way that is not just comprehensible, but also moving.


About Jacquetta Hawkes

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Jacquetta Hawkes was a British archaeologist and prolific writer predominantly interested in the lives of the peoples discovered by archaeological excavations. Her publications include The World of the Past (1963) and The Shell Guide to British Archaeology (1986). She co-authored a number of books with both her first husband, Christopher Hawkes – Prehistoric Britain (1943) – and her second husband, the prominent novelist, playwright and broadcaster J. B. Priestley – Dragon's Mouth (1952) and Journey Down a Rainbow (1955). Robert Macfarlane won the Guardian First Book Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award for his first book, Mountains of the Mind (2003). His second, The Wild Places (2007), was similarly celebrated, winning three prizes and being shortlisted for six more. Both books were adapted for television by the BBC. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
Published June 7, 2012 by Collins. 320 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Sports & Outdoors, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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Hawkes is merely an outcrop or feature of the land, and her book no more or less remarkable than – as she modestly puts it – "the imprint … left by a herring in Cretaceous slime".

May 11 2012 | Read Full Review of A Land (Collins Nature Library)

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