“So there I lie on the plateau, under me the central core of fire from which was thrust this grumbling grinding mass of plutonic rock”
A beautiful, collectable gift edition of the masterpiece of Scottish nature writing. Introduced by Robert Macfarlane and with an afterword by Jeanette Winterson
‘The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain’ Guardian
Introduction by Robert Macfarlane. Afterword by Jeanette Winterson
In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.
Shepherd spent a lifetime in search of the ‘essential nature’ of the Cairngorms; her quest led her to write this classic meditation on the magnificence of mountains, and on our imaginative relationship with the wild world around us. Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.
“The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain”
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“Most works of mountain literature are written by men, and most of them focus on the goal of the summit. Nan Shepherd’s aimless, sensual exploration of the Cairngorms is bracingly different”
“Reading [The Living Mountain] seems to me to explain why reading is so important. And odd. And necessary. And not like anything else. There is no substitute for reading”
“If you read it, you too will feel changed. This is sublime, in the 18th-century sense, when landscapes like these were terrifying. And she achieves it in language that is almost incantatory, like a spell”
“A masterpiece … Amongst the greatest works of nature writing to come out of Britain”
Anna (Nan) Shepherd was born in 1893 and died in 1981. Closely attached to Aberdeen and her native Deeside, she graduated from her home university in 1915 and for the next forty-one years worked as a lecturer in English. An enthusiastic gardener and hill-walker, she made many visits to the Cairngorms with students and friends. She also travelled further afield – to Norway, France, Italy, Greece and South Africa – but always returned to the house where she was raised and where she lived almost all of her adult life, in the village of West Cults, three miles from Aberdeen on North Deeside. To honour her legacy, in 2016, Nan Shepherd was added to the Royal Bank of Scotland £5 note.