December 08, 2012

Mark Cocker and Ronald Blythe

One of the first real works of 'nature writing' I read, back in 2008, was Mark Cocker's brilliant Crow Country. It was during a period when I was just starting to understand that I might be a writer, although I didn't know what kind, and non-fiction was pulling me strongly: I devoured Robert Macfarlane's The Wild Places, nd Kathleen Jamie's Findings, and raced through Deakin and Mabey. Each book led to another, and before long I had read Ronald Blythe's classic oral history of rural village life, Akenfield (from 1969), and Word From Wormingford, too. It turned out that what I produced was fiction, but fragments of all these books would make their way, mysteriously transmogrified, into my novel Clay.

So it was lovely, this week, to hear Mark Cocker in conversation with Ronald Blythe on Radio 3 – and lovely to be invited by Mark to speak at the New Networks for Nature conference, where the interview was recorded, next year. Blythe, 90, is a fascinating man, and an absolutely wonderful writer; his columns for the Church Times are gems of observation and gentle humour.

You can listen to the radio programme by clicking here.