In 2006, the "Guardian's" much-loved Country Diary column is a hundred years old, and to commemorate the anniversary Martin Wainwright has compiled a collection of the best of a century's writing. Where Harry Griffin's "A Lifetime of Mountains", Aurum's first and extremely successful collaboration with Guardian Books, was essentially a collection of writing about the Lake District, this new book covers the landscape of the whole of the United Kingdom, from Wales to Northern Ireland, Scotland to Norfolk. Also the Country Diary column has consistently attracted some of Britain's best writers on natural history and the countryside: Jim Perrin the mountaineering writer, whose biography of Don Whillans won the Boardman-Tasker Award, writes the dispatches from Snowdonia; Mark Cocker, author of the bestselling "Birds Britannica", writes the Country Diary from Norfolk. There are also diaries written by a leading Suffragette, one of Rupert Brooke's mistresses, and even one of the "Guardian's" printers!
And Martin Wainwright (who also edited "A Lifetime of Mountains") has found diaries to reflect the changing of the countryside over a hundred years: from the prevalence of owls in First World War trenches full of vermin to the plant surveys of Second World War bombsites.
Martin Wainwright is Northern Editor of the Guardian, and lives in Leeds. He edited A Lifetime of Mountains, and is currently working on The Guardian Book of April Fool's Day, also to be published by Aurum.