The Natural History of Selborne

Naxos. Dec. 2023. 10:11 hrs. ISBN 9781781984901. $29. SCI
Narrator Peter Wickham delivers a companionable reading of clergyman and naturalist White’s seminal work, first published in 1789 and considered the earliest study of natural history in English. This immensely popular work has seen over 300 editions and has been continuously in print since its initial publication; it counts luminaries like Virginia Woolf and Charles Darwin among its fans. The book is a collection of letters to White’s friends and fellow naturalists, Thomas Pennant and the lawyer Daines Barrington. Wickham adopts a jovial, delighted tone as he conveys White’s musings on a range of topics, from the mating habits of toads to the tail feathers of peacocks to the pastoral wonders of Gilbert’s beloved Hampshire parish of Selborne. Though Gilbert presents a sometimes overwhelming amount of detail, listeners will be charmed by his good humor, unending curiosity, and willingness to entertain differing opinions and hypotheses. Gilbert’s elegant observations, such as his comments on the language of birds (“Little is said, but much is meant and understood”), will stick with listeners long after the audio concludes.
VERDICT An absorbing and lively account of the natural world.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing