Wimbledon Bookfest Review: Nicholas Crane

'The Making of the British Landscape' with BBC's Coast presenter

The 11th annual Wimbledon BookFest has been bringing the worlds of literature, the arts, popular culture, film and sport to the Big Tent on Wimbledon Common.

There have been almost 100 events taking place from October 5-15, showcasing a diverse range of literary names, local talent, politics, current affairs, sport, film, music, theatre and children’s events. Here Anne Horsburgh reviews 'Nicholas Crane: The Making of the British Landscape'.

On the final day of Wimbledon Book Festival 2017, I went to hear Nicholas Crane in conversation with Jennifer Cox.

An award-winning writer, Nick is known to many as a presenter on BBC's 'Coast' and he is currently the president of the Royal Geographical Society. Jennifer is a correspondent for BBC's Holiday having previously worked for the Lonely Planet company and their paths had crossed on many occasions, so the atmosphere was very relaxed.

As Nick explained, his latest book 'The Making of the British Landscape' has taken some eight years to produce although his plans to write such a book had stretched back at least 20 years before.

It covers 10,000 years 'from the Ice Age to the Present' and the theme central to the book is contained in the quote in the opening page "to care about a place, you must know its story."

Of course, only the last 2,000 years have written historic records so the story of the previous 8,000 comes from the land itself. Nick described how people would gather at memorable landmarks such as the Tors on Dartmoor to exchange stories and went on to suggest that, in the area around Wimbledon, where there would be few topographical landmarks, there would be ancient oak trees used as a focal point at which to congregate.

Nick went on to discuss how the land began to change with the growing population and industrialisation and described why places are important to people, introducing the concept of Topophilia, the attachment to place.

Turning to the subject of climate change, the conversation became slightly political but Nick stressed how important he felt that a geographical input was to the future of the planet. 

The audience Q&A session also led to some interesting discussions on a variety of subjects such as building on green belts and reduction of subjects such as archaeology in further education.

Nick was an entertaining speaker, particularly amusing the audience with his tales of his boyhood love of adventure whether cycling in Norfolk, OS map in hand, or mountaineering with his father in Scotland.

I like the personal approach of the book and, being a Geography graduate myself, wish some of my textbooks had been such an easy read. Oh, and there are some great maps!

By Anne Horsburgh

See www.wimbledonbookfest.org for complete programme details.

October 16, 2017

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Nicholas Crane

Nicholas Crane

Wimbledon Bookfest

Wimbledon Bookfest