1.5.2023 | Jeanette Aurdal

Book Review: The Glorious Life of the Oak, by John Lewis-Stempel

Such a beautiful book!

The oak is the wooden tie between heaven and earth. It is the lynch pin of the British landscape.

The oak is our most beloved tree. It has roots that stretch back to all the old European cultures but Britain has more ancient oaks than all the other European countries put together. More than half the ancient oaks in the world are in Britain.

Many of our ancestors - the Angles, the Saxons, the Norse - came to the British Isles in longships made of oak. For centuries the oak touched every part of a Briton's life - from cradle to coffin It was oak that made the 'wooden walls' of Nelson's navy, and the navy that allowed Britain to rule the world.

The Glorious Life of the Oak explores our long relationship with this iconic tree; it considers the life-cycle of the oak, the flora and fauna that depend on the oak, the oak as medicine, food and drink, where Britain's mightiest oaks can be found, and it tells of oak stories from folklore, myth and legend.

The Glorious Life of the Oak breathes life into the world-famous tree, offering a captivating journey of discovery into the intertwined lives of oaks, people and history. From the mighty oak tree's humble beginnings to the ways humans and oaks have flourished together throughout the ages, English author and historian John Lewis-Stempel shares an in-depth look into the life of this majestic organism and its relationship with humanity.

Based on solid research and personal experience, The Glorious Life of the Oak is a lyrical exploration of our relationship with one of the oldest tree species in Britain. Lewis-Stempel combines natural history and cultural anthropology and takes readers on a vivid tour of the mythology, folklore, politics, and customs associated with the oak tree, as he travels along the banks of Britain’s rivers, loiters in ancient churches, and baths in moonlight.

With every chapter, readers learn something new about this majestic tree as well as explore how it has informed and shaped our culture, to the point that it’s even seen as an icon of our shared history.

This wonderfully crafted book is not just a celebration of the grandeur of oaks, but a tribute to their resilience and survival, and a testament to the power of nature. A true work of love and dedication, The Glorious Life of the Oak, is a timeless work that shows a deep respect for trees, their origins and influence.

At Oak & Rope we often dip into this book for inspiration, and every time we do so we are humbled by how privileged we are to work with this truly amazing material. The stories our customers tell about the impact our designs have is a continuation of a long tradition, and we work hard to do The Glorious Oak justice each and very day.

We love all things oak,  so much that when it came to designing a wedding ring there was no question about where the inspiration should come from!