Richard Jefferies (1848-1887) was the son of a Wiltshire farmer. He never worked the land but made his living from writing, trekking across the countryside with his notebook. He spent much of his life struggling against poverty and tuberculosis, which would eventually kill him at the age of thirty-nine. As well as being in many ways the father of English nature writing, Jefferies also wrote the classic children's book Bevis and the apocalyptic science-fiction novel After London.
Richard Mabey's introduction to his selection of Jefferies' work discusses the author's life, his views on the paradoxes of rural life and his place in the tradition of nature writers.
Although, for ease and convenience of illustration, the character of a particular Keeper has been used as a nucleus about which to arrange materials that would otherwise have lacked a connecting link, the facts here collected are really entirely derived from original observation.