Writing that is “down to earth and yet transporting:” Jenny Uglow receives honors for Nature’s Engraver

April 18, 2008 at 8:28 pm (Art, books, Magazines and newspapers)

I have long appreciated the arts coverage in the Washington Post. In today’s Style section, we learn that Jenny Uglow’s biography of the engraver Thomas Bewick [1753-1828] has won the National Award for Arts Writing. This award that was created last year by the Arts Club of Washington. Until now I was unaware of this group, but I am fervently in favor of any individual or organization that advocates for the arts.

According to one of the judges, Nancy Pearl, the writing in Nature’s Engraver is “down to earth and yet transporting.” Pearl comments further that the book “brings this time period alive in a way that even the best historical fiction sometimes fails to do.”

This observation is right on the money. I read the book last summer and fell completely under its spell. Here is my review of Nature’s Engraver. I’ve included some examples of Thomas Bewick’s enchanting works of art.

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Browning said,

    Thank you for this nice mention of the National Award for Arts Writing. Jenny Uglow will be visiting the Arts Club next week to receive the award and give a public reading. Please join us if you’re in the DC area. And we’d appreciate any help you might give spreading the word. Here’s the notice, below:

    Monday, May 19 at 7:00 pm

    Public reading by Jenny Uglow, author of Nature’s Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, winner of the National Award for Arts Writing, one of the largest monetary prizes in the US for a single book, given in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts for a broad audience, sponsored annually by the Arts Club of Washington

    Free Admission

    The Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street NW, Washington, DC. (202) 331-7282, ext. 15. Foggy Bottom Metro stop.

    For more information: 202-331-7282 x 15, award@artsclubofwashington.org

    Nature’s Engraver recounts the life and achievements of the man who produced, in early 19th century Britain, the first Field Guide to birds for ordinary people, illustrated with woodcuts of remarkable accuracy and beauty. These woodcuts, in turn, influenced book illustration for the next century. The book is gorgeously written, and Bewick is fascinating. He was working class, liberal (even radical in some of his politics), and amazingly talented. His evocations of birds helped to widen an appreciation for nature, and the preservation of land, among people of all classes.

    Many thanks!
    Sarah Browning
    Award Administrator

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