The Natural History of Selborne

October 31, 2020
The Natural History of Selborne

'I was much entertained last summer with a tame bat, which wouldtake flies out of a person's hand.'Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne (1789) reveals aworld of wonders in nature. Over a period of twenty years Whitedescribes in minute detail the behaviour of animals through thechanging seasons in the rural Hampshire parish of Selborne. Henotes everything from the habits of an eccentric tortoise to themysteries of bird migration and animal reproduction, with thepurpose of inspiring others to observe their own surroundings withthe same pleasure and attention. Written as a series of letters,White's book has all the immediacy of an exchange with friends, yetit is crafted with compelling literary skill. His gossipycorrespondence has delighted readers from Charles Darwin toVirginia Woolf, and it has been read as a nostalgic evocation of apastoral vision, a model for local studies of plants and animals,and a precursor to modern ecology. This new edition includescontemporary illustrations, a contextualizing introduction, and anappendix of literary responses to the book.