Monday, 28 February 2011


Thomas Bewick was born in 1753, close to the River Tyne in Northumberland. He trained as an engraver with Ralph Beilby in Newcastle and in 1777 became Beilby's partner. In 1790 they published A General History of Quadrupeds and when this proved successful Bewick undertook to record all the birds of the British Isles. Land Birds was published in 1797 and Water Birds followed in 1804, together forming A History of British Birds. Bewick's intricate illustrations and engaging descriptions make his British Birds a treasure of natural history. His knowledge of the habits and habitats of bird species come not just from research but from a life spent immersed in the countryside, where he delighted in roaming, fishing and watching wildlife. Bewick enjoyed recognition and success during his lifetime, continuing the engraving business after his partnership with Beilby ended. His name lives on in two species of bird - Bewick's wren and Bewick's swan. Each bird is described in detail, particularly as to colours, diet and nesting habits plus his own amusing observations. 'The Kite is particularly fond of young chickens but the fury of their mother is generally sufficient to drive away the robber.' 'Jays often assemble in great numbers early in the spring and seem to hold a conference, probably for the purpose of fixing upon the districts they are to occupy. While some gabble, shout or whistle others with a raucous voice seem to command attention. The noise made on these occasions may be aptly compared to that of a distant meeting of disorderly drunken persons.' Introduction by Diana Vowles. 208 pages with over 180 delicate black and white engravings.
Published Price: £12.99

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