The Essay: Forests (Series 1)

What is it about forests that inspires our imagination? In this series of Essays for our Into the Forest season, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough takes five woodland walks with writers and artists who find themselves moved by the sounds, textures and smells of the forest. She’s joined first by Fiona Stafford, author of ‘The Long, Long Life of Trees’ and expert on the Romantic poets. Fiona is fascinated by the moment in the late 18th century when Britain’s great forests were swept away by the demands of the Royal Navy and the Enclosure Acts. As the dark forests with their brigands and wild beasts disappeared, novelists and visual artists were free to conjure up their own dappled glades, to create spaces of romantic imagination. In midsummer week, Radio 3 enters one of the most potent sources of the human imagination. ‘Into the Forest’ explores the enchantment, escape and magical danger of the forest in summer, with slow radio moments featuring the sounds of the forest, allowing time out from today’s often frenetic world.