Much of our most famous literature of landscape was produced during the Romantic movement, and that may shed light on the genre’s current popularity. For then, as now, technological changes were convulsing society and creating perceived threats to the countryside; then, as now, science was in the ascendancy, promising answers to questions previously held to be beyond its reach; and then, as now, a belief in the inherent moral quality of nature developed in reaction to those changes, and, along with a renewed interest in myths and folk history, created a literature that celebrated a spiritual relationship to our environment and an emotional and historical connection to place. England was the first country to industrialise, and 90 per cent of the UK population now live in towns and cities, where wildlife must also find a way to rub along with us. The literature of nature has come to reflect that shift. Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside (1973, republished in 2010) led the way for those looking beyond the bucolic for an experience of nature; as did the poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts in their dystopian and genre-defying Edgelands (2011).
more from Melissa Harrison at the FT here.