Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick

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University of Chicago Press, May 15, 2009 - Art - 458 pages

Thomas Bewick’s (1753–1828) History of British Birds was the first field guide for ordinary people, illustrated with woodcuts of astonishing accuracy and beauty. In Nature’s Engraver, Jenny Uglow tells the story of the farmer’s son from Tyneside who became one of Britain’s greatest and most popular engravers. It is a story of violent change, radical politics, lost ways of life, and the beauty of the wild—a journey to the beginning of our lasting obsession with the natural world.

“A refined and engaging biography, as beautifully wrought, in its way, as Bewick’s woodcuts.”—New York Times

“Uglow’s clear prose sparkles like Bewick’s River Tyne.”—Los Angeles Times

“This is a lovely book, not just in the quality and sympathy of the writing but in the care of its design and illustration. [Uglow] has turned a rich but undramatic life into a vignette as full of interest and details as one of Bewick’s own woodcuts.”—Sunday Telegraph

“A splendid biography. But it becomes an endearing one by the scattered presence of so many of Bewick’s woodcuts.”—Washington Post

“Another triumph for England’s most innovative biographer, and a marvelous treat for fans of Bewick’s beguiling work.”—Kirkus Reviews


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - andersonden - LibraryThing

I enjoyed this book, not least because it contained some absolutely amazing woodcuts, but also because it provided a view to a world not so far away in time but light years away in technology and way of life. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Teazle - LibraryThing

I was enthralled by this book about the life and work of the 18th/19th century engraver. I didn't know anything about him before reading this, but the author's style made me feel as if I knew him well by the end of the book, and I was sorry to have finished it. Read full review


1 The Banks of the Tyne
2 Nature and Drawing
3 The Common
4 Beilbys Wild Lad
5 Life in the Town
6 Pretty Histories
7 God Gave the Earth to You
II Stream
IV Tide
Natures Engraver
Workshop Apprentices
Abbreviations Sources and Notes
List of Illustrations

III Flood

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About the author (2009)

Jenny Uglow is an editor at Chatto & Windus. Her books include Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories; The Lunar Men, winner of the PEN International prize for history; and Hogarth: A Life and A World.

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