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A History of Trees (Hardback)

Photographic Books Colour Books Nature Outdoors White Owl

By Dr Simon Wills
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 203
ISBN: 9781526701596
Published: 12th December 2018

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Have you ever wondered how trees got their names? What did our ancestors think about trees, and how were they used in the past? This fascinating book will answer many of your questions, but also reveal interesting stories that are not widely known. For example, the nut from which tree was predicted to pay off the UK’s national debt? Or why is Europe’s most popular pear called the ‘conference’? Simon Wills tells the history of twenty-eight common trees in an engaging and entertaining way, and every chapter is illustrated with his photographs.

Find out why the London plane tree is so frequently planted in our cities, and how our forebears were in awe of the magical properties of hawthorn. Where is Britain’s largest conker tree? Which tree was believed to protect you against both lightning and witchcraft?

The use of bay tree leaves as a sign of victory by athletes in ancient Greece led to them being subsequently adopted by many others – from Roman emperors to the Royal Marines. But why were willow trees associated with Alexander Pope, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Samuel Johnson? Why did Queen Anne pay a large sum for a cutting from a walnut tree in Somerset? Discover the answers to these and many other intriguing tales within the pages of this highly engrossing book.

This book is such an interesting one for me as I wouldn't say that I am very interested in trees or very into nature but it's a book that manages to blend together facts, history and the present and this is what makes it such a wonderful collection. The book features pictures and images of trees in different locations across the UK and details where trees have been used in historical artwork. A particular favourite of mine was the Huntingdon elm in Marylebone High Street that is right outside the school I used to attend and until reading this book I walked past it blissfully unaware! In closing, this book is one that makes you double-take when you're in your surroundings and pay closer attention when you're out and about.

Amazon Customer, Sandra

Featured in 'The best of this month's Hertfordshire-linked books and book news'

Hertfordshire Life, August 2019

Click here to read author Q&A conducted by Stevie Gallacher

The Sunday Post (online), 13th June 2019

This lovely book was a welcome and gratefully received Christmas present. Engagingly written, it was absolutely perfect for a relaxing read over Christmas and New Year and I’ve been dipping into it ever since.

It’s useful too, as the seasons unfold, for identifying species. Full of factual information, folklore, history and all kinds of tree-related knowledge, it’s beautifully illustrated with colour photos and historical drawings. Who knew alder trees had had so much to contribute to the everyday lives of our ancestors? Learn how to plant a ‘quickset’ hedge with wise advice from the fifteenth century and find out which well-known roadside favourite is also known as the ‘tree of Mars’. Did you know what happened to change the British landscape so drastically in the 1920s and again in the 1960s?

A History of Trees is a joy of a book to keep on your bedside table.

Sue Simkins, writer & blogger

Listed in alphabetical order from alder to yew, readers will learn how the tree got its name, how and where it grows and how the tree has been used by humans through history, along with legends and folklore about it. Several pages are devoted to each tree, with beautiful full color photos, drawings and woodcuts. An indispensable guide to some of our planets most majestic beings.

Read the full review here

Cayocosta 72, Rose Smith

I really enjoyed this book, it is entertaining and informative. It is not a heavy read and very much a book you can dip in and out of. I am happy to recommend it.

Read the full review here

The Blackberry Garden

A beautiful hardback book. This is definitely a book to treasure.

filled with dramatic photographs and fascinating facts on trees from Alder to Yew.

Each species has been lovingly described and an explanation given on what the wood has been used to make, and what medicinal property of each tree has been used for, through the ages.

It is interesting to learn that many of these old remedies are now being reviewed in the current world of medicine.

For the Love of Books

Article 'Book of trees' as featured by

Dorset Living, April 2019 – Joanna Davis reports

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Derby with presenter Andy Twigge, 1st April 2019

Many years ago I illustrated a book on trees, so I have looked at this with a particularly critical eye. My verdict? Superb!...

... The book is well-written and beautifully presented with some delightful photographs.

Sussex Living, March 2019 - review by Elizabeth Kay

This is a beautiful book that would make a perfect present for anybody interested in trees, in general, and UK trees in particular. It is a photographic book, but it also contains a wealth of written information about trees: factual and botanical data, historical events related to specific trees, folk and mythological stories about them, literary connections, etc... this is a beautiful, informative, entertaining, and amusing book that will delight all those who love nature, trees in particular, and who enjoy trivia, stories and photographs. Perfect as a present, for yourself or others, as an inspiration, and as a breath of fresh air. Enjoy!

Read the full review here

Author Translator, Olga Nunez Miret

Trees hold a special place in most people’s hearts, and Simon’s photographs and fascinating accomanying texts are the perfect antidote to the rigours of modern life. There are things in this book I never knew, and feel better for knowing. Superb.

Read the full review here

Books Monthly

"A History of Trees" by dedicated wildlife and nature photographer Simon Wills is a unique and beautifully illustrated volume that reveals such fascinating topics as how trees got their names, what our ancestors thought about trees, and how trees were used in the past. A fascinating compilation of interesting stories that are not widely known, readers will learn that the nut from which tree was predicted to pay off the UK's national debt, and why Europe's most popular pear called the 'conference'. Simon Wills tells the history of twenty-eight common trees in an engaging and entertaining way, and every chapter is illustrated with his photographs. A simply fascinating and impressively informative read from cover to cover, "A History Of Trees" will prove to be an enduringly valued addition to community, college, and university collections.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

As featured by

Sussex Local, March 2019

This is a fascinating book beautifully presented.

Bradway Bugle, Spring 2019

Simon Wills entertainingly explores more or less everything you might want to know about 28 of our most common trees.

Taking a detailed look at each species, he illuminates its origin and social history with the help of plenty of photos, illustrations and interesting facts.

Evergreen, April 2019

As featured by

New Nature, March/April 2019

The writing was easy to read and full of fascinating facts and ideas, folklore and superstition, all lavishly illustrated with colour photographs, some by the author and featuring his dedicatee, Tim the dog. It was the richness of the photographs that drew me to this book, and the writing that kept my interest. If the writing wasn’t so good I could easily have got lost in the pictures.

Read the full review here

Rosemarie Cawkwell, Blogger

Article: 'Monkey puzzle isn't the only tree that leaves you baffled' as featured by

East Anglian Daily Times/Eastern Daily Press - words by Steve Russell

As featured in competition

Countryman, January 2019

Click here to listen to author interview at Kingley Vale Forest

BBC Radio Sussex with presenter Danny Pike, 24th January 2019

Article: 'Ancient Herefordshire trees feature in new book'

Hereford Times, 3rd January 2019 - words by Richard Prime

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Devon with presenter David Fitzgerald, 29th January 2019

Article: 'Collection of fascinating facts about humble tree' as featured by

Western Morning News, 7th January 2019 – words by Keith Rossiter

⭐⭐⭐⭐ A good reference book.
I'm looking forward to rediscovering my love of trees and learning about the associated history.

Amazon Customer

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Wiltshire with presenter Sue Kinnear, 9th January 2019

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Berkshire with presenter Sarah Walker, 8th January 2019

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Oxford with presenter Kat Orman, 8th January 2019

Books to look out for with a Yorkshire link

Yorkshire Post, 4th January 2019

I like learning about trees and nature. This book was really interesting for me and I loved learning more about the history of different trees.

NetGalley, reviewed by Catherine C

I think this is a wonderful book for a booklover, I can see that as a hardcover it will be wonderful book to peruse and flick through, however, I don't think I got the full benefit of that in the digital version. Still, definitely a book that will make a brilliant gift for any tree lover, lover of facts.

NetGalley, reviewed by Melanie Martin

This book is interesting and full of information about trees and their history.. It's well written and engaging.

Recommended.

NetGalley, reviewed by Anna Maria Giacomasso

While I did have a few quibbles with the book, finding some entries were much shorter than others, as well as too much focus on certain geographical areas, overall, I quite liked this title. It also deserves a special shout out for the dedication alone, it did make me smile.

NetGalley, reviewed by Kat Munro
Dr Simon Wills

About Dr Simon Wills

Dr Simon Wills is a maritime genealogist, researcher and author, who writes for many genealogy and history magazines including Who Do You Think You Are?, Family Tree, Discover Your History, and Your Family Tree. He has over 25 years' experience researching maritime history and also works part-time as an information adviser to the NHS and other healthcare organisations.

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