The Military Orchid by Jocelyn Brooke

Jocelyn Brooke blends memoir, botany and even satire to recall his lifelong quest in search of the flower that was his obsession: Orchis Militaris.

Author: Jocelyn Brooke

Introduction: Horatio Clare

Published: October 2011



22 in stock (can be backordered)

Jocelyn Brooke’s love affair with wild flowers and home-made fireworks began when he was growing up in Kent. But there was one particular flower, especially rare and beautiful, which became an obsession. Over three decades and through two world wars, in the deserts of Libya and the woodlands of Italy, in the chalk downs of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, he searched continually for his most beloved and elusive Orchis militaris, the military orchid. Jocelyn Brooke blends memoir, botany and satire to recall this lifelong quest. The Military Orchid is a comic masterpiece and became widely revered: Kingsley Amis described Brooke as ‘brilliant and exciting’, John Betjeman called him ‘as subtle as the devil’, and to Anthony Powell he was ‘one of the most interesting and talented’ writers to emerge after the Second World War.

‘Jocelyn Brooke’s cracklingly bizarre The Military Orchid, a memoir-satire-nature-quest about orchids and home-made fireworks, first published in 1948, and just reissued in a beautiful edition by Little Toller Books.’
Robert Macfarlane in ‘Books of the Year’.


Introduced by Horatio Clare
Cover by David Inshaw

216 x 156mms sewn paperback with flaps
152pages with colour illustrations by Gavin & Stephen Bone
ISBN 978-1-908213-05-1

Additional information

Weight350 g
Dimensions14 × 156 × 216 mm


  1. Robert Macfarlane

    We’re thrilled to see Jocelyn Brooke’s wonderful book The Military Orchid chosen by Robert Macfarlane as one of his books of 2011 in the Guardian. ‘Jocelyn Brooke’s cracklingly bizarre The Military Orchid,’ he writes ‘a memoir-satire-nature-quest about orchids and home-made fireworks.’ Read Robert Macfarlane’s recommendations here.

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