cover image Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick

Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick

Jennifer Uglow, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.50 (458pp) ISBN 978-0-374-11236-3

In this perceptive biography, Uglow (A Little History of British Gardening ), an editor at the British publisher Chatto & Windus, chronicles the life of the wood engraver acclaimed for exquisite little vignettes of the Northumbrian countryside and its people. Thomas Bewick (1753– 1828) remained most of his life in his beloved Northumberland, where he was much in demand for bookplates, trade cards, playbills, business cards, leaflets and broadsides decorated with charming images of farmers, fishermen, peddlers, barnyards, moors, trees and streams. A naturalist as well as an artist, he rose to national fame with illustrations for three books, A General History of Quadrupeds , A History of British Birds and an edition of Aesop's Fables. Despite his celebrity, Bewick was "a plain, no-nonsense man" who cherished his family, loved fishing and tramping about the countryside and occasionally dabbled in politics. Uglow fleshes out what might have been a prosaic biography with a wealth of fascinating information about the world in which Bewick lived and worked—including descriptions of Northumberland and its people, and accounts of contemporaneous politics and religious thought. Her charming book, copiously illustrated with Bewick's wood engravings, includes extensive notes and a list of Bewick's workshop apprentices. 2 maps. (June)