Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel


What really goes on in the long grass?Meadowland gives an unique and intimate account of an English meadow’s life from January to December, together with its biography. In exquisite prose, John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons from cowslips in spring to the hay-cutting of summer and grazing in autumn, and includes the biographies of the animals that inhabit the grass and the soil beneath: the badger clan, the fox family, the rab...

Details Meadowland

Release DateMay 22nd, 2014
GenreNonfiction, Environment, Nature, Science, Natural History, Animals

Reviews Meadowland

  • Jennifer
    A few months ago, a GR friend reviewed this book and it sounded like just the sort of thing I'd love. Sadly, when trying to locate a copy I found out it isn't readily available in the U.S. (I'm still baffled as to why an e-book isn't available, but I also know nothing about copyright and publishing laws and business arrangements). When I traveled to the U.K. a few weeks ago this book (and a few others) were top on the list of souvenirs to bring h...
  • Rebecca
    (4.5) “John Clare found his poems in a field. Sometimes I find words. There is nothing like working land for growing and reaping lines of prose.” Lewis-Stempel is a proper third-generation Herefordshire farmer, but also a naturalist with a poet’s eye. His day job might involve shooting rabbits, cutting hay and delivering lambs, but he still finds the time to notice and appreciate wildlife. He knows his field’s flowers, insects and birds a...
  • Paul
    It just looks like a regular field. It has a hedge around it, and it is full of grass with some muddy patches near the feeding troughs and the gate.And you would think that is it. But it isn’t, trust me on this, it really isn’t. This field is teeming with life.There are the red kites feasting on wild and domesticated animals, the badgers that patrol the field, the playful fox cubs, the hidden moles, visible only from their mounds, that try an...
  • T.D. Whittle
    This is a gorgeous homage to the traditional English meadow. I was trying to read this book slowly and follow Lewis-Stempel through his year on the Lower Meadow of his home in Herefordshire. However, I could only stretch it out two months because it's such a pleasure to read. Lewis-Stempel is a man of the land and a poet at heart. He spends so much time walking the night meadow that I half expected him to turn into a werewolf by the end of the ye...
  • ashley c
    An intimate look into an English farmer's life - a world I'll never be privy to in real life, but now I have experienced a whole season in a meadow in Herfordshire thanks to Lewis-Stempel. He peppers his daily observations about the birds, insects, flowers, and vegetation in his field with poetry, history, little scraps of notes he made while out working, and the current situation with farming in England and climate change. I imagine him sitting ...
  • Denny
    "The old ways do not seem so mad in an ancient landscape where I can barely see one electric light,and I can hold in my cupped hand the eternal peace of night." This book is so beautifully written that I know I will be tracking down his other books.
  • Jason
    If you want to read a book about a piece of land where the writer is truly in love with that piece of land then this is the book for you. So many people will probably come across a meadow and see only a field, so few are going to see things through the eyes of John Lewis-Stempel. His knowledge of all the types of animals, flowers, bugs and even grasses is incredible. Whenever I read a nature book I try to remember one thing and then go and identi...
  • Cathrine ☯️
    A lovely twelve month journal any nature lover would appreciate.
  • Michael Dodsworth
    A lovely book. I think the idea of a 'micro' approach to nature, concentrating on a single field is a really effective way of revealing through the seasons the different wildlife responses to a changing environment. What we learn is just how adaptable nature is despite the genuine fears that we have for the planet in the face of climate change deniers like Trump and his ilk and the morons in the 'Atlantic Bridge' wing of the UK Conservative Party...
  • Graychin
    All back-cover blurbs be damned, this really is one of those rare and precious things, a remarkable book. Herefordshire farmer and historian John Lewis-Stempel gives us a year in the life of an ancient hedge-ringed meadow on his family farm with all its flora, fauna, and meteorological visitations. If this sounds to you like a dull sort of story, you’re mistaken. All the dramas and wonders of human and animal life play themselves out in this sp...
  • Penny
    I really love good nature writing like this. Maybe you'd think nothing really happens in a meadow during a year that could ever fill a book - you'd be so wrong. Lewis Stempel is a farmer (with all the practicalities that role brings) and a nature lover. The two don't always go hand in hand. He fully admits that he has a 'spiritual connection' with his land that has nothing to do with religion. On a beautiful summer's evening, as he walks in his m...
  • Barbara Copperthwaite
    Some writing is so beautiful that I am gripped with an urge to read sections out loud, just so that I can hear the jewel-like words as well as see them, somehow maximizing the pleasure and sharing the joy with others. This is one such book. Vividly described, and wonderfully written, Meadowland gives a unique and intimate account of an English meadow’s life from January to December. John Lewis-Stempel’s passionate love for his land comes thro...
  • Shalini
    When I heard that this book was chosen over Helen MacDonald's H is for Hawk for the Thwaites Wainwright prize, I had to read it. This cannot be a rational review, as the neurons in several parts of this nature lover's brain kept triggering the release of pleasure-neurotransmitters sentence after sentence. John Lewis-Stempel uses farmer's tales, poetry, Middle English words, folklore and history to describe birds, mammals, insects, plants and the ...
  • Ian Brydon
    While I might try and hide this from my sophisticated, urban and urbane colleagues, I am, at heart, a simple country boy. I have now lived in London for more than thirty years but I grew up on the fringes of a small hamlet which itself languished in the vague hinterland of a small provincial town in North Leicestershire. I am sure that such biographical detail must seem insignificant - even otiose in the extreme - though I feel it does give some ...
  • Phil James
    Wonderful nature writing that brought me back to all the books I loved as a child: Gerald Durrell, James Herriot, Richard Adams and Joy Adamson.He writes about the year, from month to month, of the intimate life of one meadow on the border of Wales and England, not far from where I grew up and rambled around in the countryside.He has the eyes of a child, the inclinations of a farmer and the patience of a old-time naturalist. This isn't at all flu...
  • Snoakes
    Quite simply, this is some of the most gorgeous prose I have read for a long time.Just when the British have been castigated for their parochial reading habits, what could be more parochial than an entire book about a single field? But by concentrating on such a small area John Lewis-Stempel gives us so much - not just the flora and fauna, but also the seasons, weather, the farming year and nature in all its muddy visceral fragile breathtaking be...
  • Andrew Cox
    Absolutely wonderful. I spent a month on a farm in Wales a few years back & I was taken back to that time when I wandered around the fields there. I am immensely jealous of the writer spending his time observing the changing seasons. Very clear that the poet John Clare has a big influence & the writing is so poetic. A very simple idea but so beautifully executed. I love nature, the birds, animals & plants & this book was totally me. Seeing the wo...
  • William
    This book is very easy to read. No tangent of thought lasts longer than a page or two at most, before the calendar turns and new stirrings are to observed among the grasses and hedges of John Lewis-Stempel's field. (Or paddock as we might say in Australia). Yet I have my suspicions as to whether I really think Lewis-Stempel is a 'good' writer. There was a faint whiff of self-consciousness to his manner, manifesting most obviously in strained simi...
  • Lola Et La Vie
    This is the kind of nature writing I like. It is simply observation from a farmer’s hill farm and it was a joy. I have friends who farm in Devon, whose farm is very similar to the one described in this book. It makes it very easy to visualise the setting.We read the author’s observations in chronological order as he takes us through the months from January to December. I loved the way he talks about nature. It is full of wonder and awe withou...
  • Marcel Patrick
    This was a real joy to read and the last two weeks I have found myself swimming effortlessly through the pages of meadowland's succint & lyrical prose. Ive never been one for reading diary format but John Lewis-Stemples meadowland works to give a reasonably detailed & poetic seasonal account of his herefordshire meadow, haymaking, and all its inhabitants that cross its path from the gentleman in velvet blacksuits (moles) to the old boar badgers t...
  • Kari
    A gorgeously quiet book that immerses you in the wonderful day to day life of a single meadow. It is amazing how much goes on at all levels of flora and fauna - things that you only notice when you take the time to sit silently and patiently watch. Lewis-Stempel demonstrates his deep love and feeling of connection with his bit of English earth in a very unobtrusive and reverent manner. It did jar me to read his thoughts on hunting/shooting and th...
  • Andy
    Walker's Book of the Year 2014An unexpected slice of brilliance, Lewis-Semple's chronicle of one year in the life of a meadow on his farm in the Welsh Marches is a tour-de-force. Weaving nature, folklore, geography, history and meteorology into a consistent and balanced whole is a considerable achievement in itself. But the sheer poetry of the writing, combined with the author's élan and zest for life, turns what is a great book into an instant ...
  • Ellie
    This was a difficult book for me to review.From an objective standpoint, this was beautifully written, and really paints a descriptive picture of nature. However unfortunately the book just didn’t hold my attention and I struggled to get through it.I’d recommend trying this out if you have a particular interest in nature writing, but it probably wouldn’t be as appealing to the “lay” reader.
  • Roger
    I enjoyed parts of this, but other parts were not to my taste - perhaps I just don't appreciate killing things. Way too much quoting at length of poetry also.
  • Bethwyn (Butterfly Elephant Books)
    Beautiful. I am adoring nature writing and excited to explore more of it. This was amazing to dip into and I felt a part of me come alive whilst reading it.
  • Christian
    Sometimes you look at a field and you see it for what it is. A field. But you often don’t see it for what it really is. An ecosystem unto itself, teeming with life, both flora and fauna. In very poetic prose, Lewis-Stempel tells us about life in a field on the borders of England and Wales over a year. An easy and lyrical book to get into which will suck you in and having you turning page after page absorbed. Whether it’s his musings on his ca...
  • Suzie Grogan
    What a perfect book. Like other reviewers I am left with a real desire to have my own meadow and live every moment with it for a year, learning it's ways and understanding the importance of each grass, flower, insect, mammal and bird in the life cycle of a very special environment. The writing has a poetry about it, and there is a genuine sense of place as the author takes us with him into the long grasses...
  • Nathalie (keepreadingbooks)
    ”And I wonder, is it really so difficult to enter, in some slight degree, into the mind-frame of an animal? Are we not all beasts?”I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this book, which is quite impressive – even some of my five-star reads have tiny flaws. It was a delightful read and a look into the life of flora and fauna in an English farm meadow, and into the way it is cultivated by humans too. It is also a great read for autum...