Sunday, 4 July 2010

Book review: The Concise British Flora in Colour

The Concise British Flora in Colour (1965) by W.Keble Martin

[UPDATE: This book review has now MOVED. The synopsis and summary from the original post are below - the rest can be found at Book Review - The Concise British Flora in Colour on my website dedicated to Botanical Art and Artists.]

Title: The Concise British Flora in Colour
Synopsis:The product of a project lasting over 60 years to study, research, amd illustrate the natural wild flowers of the UK.  W. Keble Martin started before the first world war and this book was not published until 1965.  It records short descriptions of the plants with proper nomenclature and popular name.  On the opposite page are the composite illustrations of the variations of flowers within a family.  All the plants and flowers were drawn from life.  The book was a best seller when published in 1965 - a feat not yet repeated for a book about wild flowers.
Summary review: The primary reason for buying this book for me was nostalgia - for my childhood, expeditions to find wildflowers for a primary school project and (I now realise) for those wildflowers which are no longer common.  There are probably quite a few people over the age of 50 who feel the same.  Over and above that this was the book which introduced me to botanical illustration.  I loved the fact that the wild flowers were illustrated rather than photographed and what seemed to me to be the very innovative way that the flowers were arranged on the page.  I was hooked by this book and have remained interested ever since. 

A copy of the original post has been archived and is on file.

2 comments:

Carole Baker said...

I was delighted to see your review of this book. I got a copy in a used bookstore during my first trip to England in the mid-eighties. Many of the species illustrated are also here in the states, wild as well as in our gardens, and its been useful and enjoyable over the years to reference. I really like the way he arranged so much on each page so beautifully. Thank you for your informative review.

Julie Damaggio said...

I'm glad to see your review too !
I was on the first day of my London stay, two days ago, when I saw it in a used-book shop, and I was immediately attracted by the cover (and, to be fair, the price which was only 2£). It is sometimes very difficult to resist a book...
I think I'll need some training to be really able to recognize plants I don't already know, but it's a beautiful book at least, and very enjoyable. And now I will learn the names of the plants in English... (hopefully for me they all have latin names !). I'm very happy to see that it has a long story, and that it is as important as it is beautiful. Thank you again for the information about the book.

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