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Country Matters by Clare Leighton


First published in 1937, Country Matters is an exploration of nature and the rhythm of English rural life as seen through the eyes of Clare Leighton, an exceptionally talented engraver and writer. These vignettes from life in what is now my local area, the Chilterns, were a prelude to her move in 1939 to North Carolina in the United States. The beautiful book is heavily illustrated throughout with Clare's engravings and features an introduction by one of my heroines, the journalist Kate Adie.

When Clare Leighton moved to the countryside in the 1930s, she tuned her exceptional creativity to the Chiltern landscape around her. Already considered one of the finest engravers of her time, she immediately began a series of portraits, in words and engravings, which explore the nature and rhythms or rural life.

With subjects as varied as picking primroses, the village witch and smithy, harvest festival, chair bodgers, the local pub, felling trees and country tramps, Leighton documents the idiosyncrasies and nuances of rural culture, leaving us with a valuable and beautiful record of a way of life that has now vanished.

Illustrated with her own bold and elegant engravings, here is an affectionate, unsentimental portrait of the English countryside.

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