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Nature and the Written Word

Monty Don presents the first of two special programmes recorded at the Hay Festival, exploring the presence of the natural world in fiction and factual writing, past and present.

Monty Don presents a special Shared Planet in front of an audience from the Hay Festival. Nature has always inspired writers across the generations and cultures. The natural world has been the subject, generated the characters and been there as the canvas on which the rest of the story is written. In this special edition of Shared Planet Monty Don explores the presence of the natural world in fiction and factual writing, past and present and whether any landmarks in human history change the way in which we write about the natural world around us.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 16 Jun 2014 21:00

Anneliese Emmans Dean

Anneliese Emmans Dean

Anneliese Emmans Dean is the author of Buzzing! Discover the poetry in garden minibeasts, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize and is a National Insect Week recommended children’s book. Poet, photographer and performer, Anneliese spans the arts–science divide promoting learning through laughter, rhythm and rhyme. Her Buzzing! poetry show is a hit in schools, theatres and festivals – including, this year, at Hay.


Anneliese received the Royal Entomological Society’s Lesley Goodman Award for advancing understanding of insects. She has been commissioned to write poems for children and for adults by, among others, the BBC and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, whose ‘Bees for Everyone’ project she helped launch.


Anneliese studied at Cambridge University, where she started in the Faculty of Modern Languages and ended up in the Department of Engineering. Her eco-musical Compost! The (mini-)Musical won the 2011 Garden Organic Innovation Award.

Ralph Pite

Ralph Pite

Ralph Pite teaches English Literature at the University of Bristol.  He is currently writing a book about the poets, Robert Frost and Edward Thomas. They were close friends in the three years before Thomas’s death in 1917, at the Battle of Arras. Both men shared a love of nature and an interest in ‘the simple life’ – in ways of living, that’s to say, which we would call sustainable.


Ralph says - "Finding out more about Frost and Thomas is, for me, a route into thinking about how we can respond to the present environmental crisis. I particularly admire how Frost and Thomas combined cultural and imaginative changes with changes in lifestyle and behaviour."


Patrick has also written on Thomas Hardy, including a biography, The Guarded Life, and I’m planning a study of contemporary poets whose work addresses environmental concerns – writers such as, for example, Kathleen Jamie and Jorie Graham. I review for Resurgence and Ecologist.

Patrick Barkham

Patrick Barkham

Patrick Barkham is Natural History Writer for the Guardian and the author of Badgerlands and The Butterfly Isles. Both books have been shortlisted for awards including the Ondaatje Prize and the Wainwright Prize.


He is a passionate amateur naturalist and lives in Norfolk with his partner and three young children. His next book, Coastlines, is an exploration of our relationship with the British seaside, and will be published by Granta in the spring of 2015, when the National Trust celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Neptune campaign to save the coast from development.


@Twitter: Patrick_Barkham


  • Tue 10 Jun 2014 11:00
  • Mon 16 Jun 2014 21:00

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