‘One of the most brilliant works of modern landscape literature’
Robert Macfarlane, from his introduction
Written towards the end of World War Two, the manuscript for The Living Mountain was tucked away for almost 30 years before it was published to critical acclaim in 1977. An impassioned ode to Nan Shepherd’s beloved Cairngorm mountains in the Scottish Highlands, her poetic descriptions and astute observations transport the reader to this beautiful, remote and rugged landscape.
This new edition has been created with the full support of the Nan Shepherd estate and it brings together Shepherd’s timeless prose with the landscape paintings of Scottish artist Rose Strang. Seven newly commissioned artworks illustrate the edition, each a stirring response to a phrase in the narrative. Shepherd was an inspiration to many writers, including Robert Macfarlane, and he has fully revised his original introduction for our edition, paying homage to the life and work of one of the great nature writers of modern times.
Bound in printed and blocked cloth Set in Columbus with Baker Signet as display 136 pages Integrated black & white photograph frontispiece, 7 full-page colour illustrations, 1 full-page colour map Plain slipcase 8¾˝ x 6¼˝
‘I read it, and I was changed’
Robert Macfarlane, from his introduction
Artist Rose Strang specialises in Scottish landscape paintings and her work perfectly encapsulates the diversity and beauty of the landscape that so beguiled Shepherd. As Robert Macfarlane writes in his introduction: ‘Each of Strang’s seven paintings takes a phrase from The Living Mountain, and dreams a response to it.’ Working in watercolour, Strang depicts flora, fauna and vistas across the seasons and in changing light. Her work continues with a map of the Cairngorm Plateau and a beautiful binding design. This unique edition of Shepherd’s best-selling and best-known work is completed with a wonderful black-and-white frontispiece photograph of the author, as well as the foreword she wrote when her book was originally published.
‘The Living Mountain draws you in with the feyness of its vision, the lucidity of its prose and Shepherd’s refreshing philosophy that mountains are more than peaks to be scaled.’
Nan Shepherd travelled to countries around the world and yet it was the Cairngorms that endlessly inspired her and captured her imagination. Exploring alone or with friends, in sunshine or snow, by day, dusk or night, over the years Shepherd gained an intimate knowledge of this wondrous landscape, which lives and breathes through her captivating and meditative prose. From the splendour of Ben MacDhui’s towering summit, to the ancient fir trees of Glen Quoich, Shepherd’s inspiring connection with nature and vivid descriptions of one of the oldest and wildest landscapes in the British Isles remains one of the greatest works of nature writing to this day. However, The Living Mountain is so much more than striking observances on the landscape. Shepherd delves deeper to reflect on our relationship with nature, encouraging us to not simply walk up a mountain, but rather to ‘walk into it’, in order to truly explore our place within the natural world and ultimately to question ourselves.
Born in 1893, Anna ‘Nan’ Shepherd was a Scottish modernist writer and poet. Shepherd worked as a lecturer and later edited the Aberdeen University Review. A keen naturalist and mountaineer, Shepherd is best known for her non-fiction book The Living Mountain (1977; Folio 2021). Shepherd was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 1964 and her image appears on the Royal Bank of Scotland five-pound note.
Scottish artist Rose Strang has a particular interest in landscape and cultural history, largely working in response to Scottish landscape. Strang has exhibited around the UK and abroad, including the Royal Scottish Academy, Gallery One, Berlin and Corte Real Gallery, Portugal. Strang often works in collaboration with poets and musicians and in 2018 was accepted as a professional member of the SSA (Society of Scottish Artists).
Robert Macfarlane is a British writer, and a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He is the author of internationally prize-winning and bestselling books about nature, people and place, including Mountains of the Mind (2003), The Wild Places (2007), The Old Ways (2012), Landmarks (2015) and Underland (2019), as well as The Lost Words (2017) and The Lost Spells (2020), children’s books of nature spells created in partnership with the artist Jackie Morris. His collaborations with artist Stanley Donwood include Holloway (2013), Ness (2019) and Thomas Hardy’s Selected Poems (The Folio Society, 2021). His work has been widely adapted for stage, film, television and music. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2012, and in 2017 was awarded the EM Forster Prize for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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