The Essay: Forests (Series 2)

In the first of a series examining the great fictional forests of art and literature, Eleanor Rosamund Baraclough (pictured) is joined by Ingrid Hanson from Manchester University for a walk through the pre-Raphaelite forest. Their spirit guide is William Morris, the writer and designer who helped create the forest in his works of fantasy fiction and championed the Arts and Crafts movement, promoting the virtues of forest life. 

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough is joined by the writer and illustrator Chris Riddell for a walk through the deep, dark Germanic forest from the imaginations of the Brothers Grimm. The company may be agreeable and the conversation fascinating, but let’s hope they’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs behind…

Today, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough is joined by Mark Atherton from Oxford University for a walk through Tolkien’s forest, uncovering his influences and the centrality of woodland to the sagas of Middle Earth.

Join Mowgli, Shere Khan and Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough in the lush and dangerous Indian forest of Rudyard Kipling’s imagination.Although he was born in India, Kipling had never visited the central Seoni region where he set The Jungle Book. As Daniel Karlin from Bristol University tells Eleanor, the vivid and detailed descriptions of the forest and its fauna came from books and travellers’ tales. Kipling was fascinated by animal behaviour but he wasn’t too precious to invert reality when the stories required a dash of cruelty or an expression of nobility. 

Join Piglet, Pooh and Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough for a stroll through the warmest, most comforting fictional woodland of all. There are adventures here, even the occasional hint of danger, but there are always good friends to return to and the promise of a honey-sticky cuddle from Winnie the Pooh.

Part of Into The Forest, a year-long theme for Radio 3, as the station explores the enduring and magical influence of the forest on music and the arts.