A tribute to world-famous naturalist and nature writer, William Condry

Welsh Books Council

A tribute to world-famous naturalist and nature writer, William Condry - 24 August 2015

"As time passes I become ever more convinced that it is in the wild places that we have the best hope of finding such little sanity as survives in the world."

So wrote William Condry, or Bill as he was known to many, the pre-eminent writer on the natural history of Wales, whose Country Diary appeared in The Guardian  for over forty years and whose influence on the present generation of nature writers continues to be felt.

One of those writers is Jim Perrin, and  A William Condry Reader   is his selection of some of Condry's best published work, reminding us of the attentiveness, appreciation and concern for the land which underpinned so much of his work in the field – its focus local and its perspective universal.

Keen to keep alive the memory of one of Wales's finest naturalists and nature-writers and to share his talent with a new generation, Jim Perrin has brought together a selection of Condry’s work to illustrate his range of subject matter; his depth of intimate knowledge about all matters pertaining to nature particularly in Wales and also, more surprisingly, in Africa, France and Spain, where his account of a visit to the Coto Donana nature reserve with his friend the poet R. S. Thomas is a good-humoured revelatory comic gem. His perceptive appraisals of writers in the field, such as the great American naturalist Henry Thoreau and the radical Victorian eccentric George Borrow, add to the range and interest.

Jim Perrin says,

"Condry's evocative, exact and lucid style - at once immediately accessible and impressively knowledgeable - and his lifelong passion for the natural environment and its protection, make this book a delight to read and an important source-book at a time of ever-growing public interest in and concern about the natural environment."

"By turns humorous and angry, lyrical and questing, here by one of its authentic masters is one of the classics of twentieth-century English nature-writing – never forced or pretentious, always precisely observant, a model for anyone who aspires to write on the subject and a treasure trove of information for all with an interest in nature."

Condry's work has inspired and influenced many and in her foreword to the book, poet and writer Gwyneth Lewis says,

"Even though I never met him, William Condry's attention to the world around him has shaped my sense of the Welsh landscape."

A genial and modest man with a wide circle of friends and admirers, he was, as Perrin concludes in his illuminating introduction, one of the twentieth-century masters of nature writing.

Jim Perrin will be taking part in the R. S. Thomas Literary Festival on Friday, 11th September, 2pm at St Michael’s Church, Eglwysfach – "R. S. Thomas & William Condry: Poetry and prose of a Natural Friendship" and also at the Condry Memorial Lecture on Saturday 3rd October at MOMA Wales, The Tabernacle, Machynlleth

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