CATEGORY   Natural History, Food, Walking

Hardcover   64 pages 240 x 336 mm   illustrated with 40 watercolours and pencil sketches 1990

Viking ISBN 978-0-670-83211-8

Gordon Beningfield

In this book, Gordon Beningfield returns to a favourite theme with which he has already delighted his audience in the best-selling titles Hardy Country and The Darkling Thrush. Here is a portrait of the part of England where Thomas Hardy was born and where he set so many of his best-loved novels, short stories and poems. Published to coincide with celebrations commemorating the 150th anniversary of Hardy’s birth, this beautiful, lavishly reproduced book contains sumptuous reproductions of paintings which not only capture the spirit of the countryside that Hardy knew, loved and described so memorably, but also reflect the passion of lifetime on the part of the artist.

Gordon Beningfield searched long and hard to find corners of the countryside that have remained relatively unscathed by the ravages of modern farming, so evoking the beauty of the landscape as it must have appeared in Hardy’s day. The pictures, specially produced for this book, are an appealing blend of full-scale paintings of landscapes and sketches of details relating to scenes and events in Hardy’s life and work, forming a fine and enduring tribute to a great writer. There is a foreword by Gertrude Bugler who knew Hardy well and was chosen by him to play the title role in the stage version of Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

GORDON BENINGFIELD (1936-98), son of a Thames lighterman, began his career as an ecclesiastical artist, with commissions that included a memorial window for the Household Cavalry in the Guards Chapel. From the early 1960s he built a reputation as a talented, versatile wildlife and countryside artist and became a passionate and influential advocate for the protection of the English countryside.