Today is World Book Day, designated by UNESCO to celebrate authors, illustrators, books and, above all, reading. It focuses on children and is marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
Certificates were two-a-penny at my school, but prizes… well, let’s just say they were very careful with their budget! However, one day a school governor donated some money for a prize, and I was the fortunate recipient. I was told I could choose a book, and it would be presented to me… Since I was studying literature in three languages and had enough reading to do(!), and as I wanted something worth holding onto, I chose this:
“The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady”
by Edith Holden
I don’t know why, but my choice was questioned by several people. Nevertheless, I stuck to my decision and was given the book.
Little did I then know that I would still be taking pleasure in it almost 30 years later!
Edith Holden, an artist and art teacher influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, was born in the late 19th century and lived in the middle of England. It was there, in the Warwickshire countryside, that she started making notes, writing out poems and drawing the flora and fauna of the region.
This book is a naturalist’s diary, carefully noting such things as the weather, when flowers blossomed, birds nested, berries ripened, etc. Written by hand, with poems and quotes by her favourite writers and beautiful illustrations of wildlife and plants, it is absolutely charming, but also incredibly informative. She even included lists of all the birds and wild flowers found in her neighbourhood.
Her choice of seasonal poetry is excellent, and her drawings are extremely accurate.
Recently I’ve been taking The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady out of the book shelf quite frequently to thumb through.
It is a book to be treasured. I treasure mine still.