The Unofficial Countryside
by Richard Mabey

Richard Mabey’s discovery of nature in the most unexpected places: city docks, overgrown bomb sites, car parks and canals. The Unofficial Countryside shows us new ways of experiencing the natural world.

Author: Richard Mabey

Introduction: Iain Sinclair

Published: May 2010

ISBN: 9780956254559Categories: , Tags: , ,


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‘An exciting re-discovery for me.’
Iain Sinclair

During the early 1970s Richard Mabey explored crumbling city docks and overgrown bomb-sites, navigated inner city canals and car parks, and discovered there was scarcely a nook in our urban landscape incapable of supporting life. The Unofficial Countryside is a timely reminder of how nature flourishes against the odds, surviving in the most obscure and surprising places.

Richard Mabey and Iain Sinclair met for the first time in 2010, and went for a walk through the urban fringe that Mabey describes in The Unofficial Countryside. A place that Iain Sinclair has also thoroughly mapped in his own writing . It was a fascinating meeting. A small moment of literary history, really. Two of the great living writers journeying through a shared territory. This short video is a fragment of that journey.

This very rare clip is from a film adaptation of Richard Mabey’s groundbreaking book The Unofficial Countryside. Made in 1975 by David Cobham, the director who also adapted Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter for the screen, the film was commissioned by the BBC series ‘The World About Us’.


Introduced by Iain Sinclair
Cover illustration by Mary Newcomb

216 x 156mm sewn paperback with flaps
184 pages with illustrations from Mary Newcomb‘s sketchbook
ISBN 978 0 9562545 5

Additional Information

Weight350 g
Dimensions14 x 156 x 216 mm


  1. The writer and environmentalist Ken Worple has posted a review which recognises the influence of Richard Mabey’s ‘pioneering study of urban and fringe nature’, a book which continues to inspire people to look at ‘the ecological delights which have found a niche in the back territories’. Read the full review at Caught by the River or read Iain Sinclair’s introduction to our edition of The Unofficial Countryside at the Guardian.

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