Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gilbert White’s ‘Natural History of Selborne’

‘The Natural History of Selborne’ has become part of that curious concoction of ideas and artefacts, which are seen as somehow defining ‘the English way of life.’
First appearing in1788, ‘Selborne’ is the fourth most frequently published book in the English language, behind The Bible, the Oxford English Dictionary and the works of William Shakespeare.

When English settlers emigrated to the colonies in the last century, ‘Selborne’ was packed alongside the family bibles and sprigs of heather. Coleridge jotted notes in the margin of his copy and thought it ‘a sweet and delightful book’.
Darwin praised it as one of the chief reasons for his interest in biology.

(Extracts reproduced by the kind permission of Richard Mabey from his award winning biography of Gilbert White in 1986.) 

Gilbert White was a pioneering naturalist and ornithologist. White was born at Selborne Hampshire, England on July 18, 1720. His house in Selborne, The Wakes, now contains the Gilbert White Museum, as well as the Oates Memorial Museum, commemorating Frank and Lawrence Oates.

For the very first time, ‘The Natural History of Selborne’ is now available as an unabridged audio book download and has duration of almost 11 hours of magical listening.

The narrator, James Taylor, has more than 40 years experience as a professional actor. He also insisted on studying Richard Mabey’s biography of Gilbert White before producing a truly compelling performance. With the kind assistance of Julian Reynolds, Head of Biology, Trinity College, Dublin, this recording also includes Latin translations of everything noted by White in his incredible and meticulous observations.

‘Selborne’ is a unique listening experience. 200 years after it was first published it still reveals “The secret parish in all of us.”

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