Bloomsbury has won an auction for academic Samantha Walton’s exploration of the “long cultural legacy of the ‘nature cure’”.
Bloomsbury’s commissioning editor Angelique Tran Van Sang acquired at auction UK and Commonwealth rights to Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of a Nature Cure, from Carrie Plitt at Felicity Bryan Associates following a two-way auction. Bloomsbury will publish in spring 2021.
The book “explores humankind’s affinity with nature, and its connection to our health and wellbeing”, Bloombsury said.
The synopsis reads: “In an effort to uncover the long cultural legacy of the ‘nature cure’... Walton sets off to explore landscapes associated with healing – from the miraculous waters of Lourdes, to a turn-of-the century wilderness retreat in Bethel, Maine, and from the experimental farm of Craiglockhart in Scotland to a laboratory simulating the experience of nature indoors.
"On her journey, she examines the history and science behind the pull of these spaces, as well as writers like Kate Chopin, John Muir and Nan Shepherd who engaged with them – and asks the important question of just what will happen to our relationship with nature in the face of a rapidly changing environment.”
Bloomsbury said the book “will combine the far-ranging intellect of books like Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust and Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City, with the scientific weight and call-to-arms of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything”.
Tran Van Sang said: “I am so thrilled to be welcoming Samantha to Bloomsbury, with a book that will place her at the forefront of new nature writing – writing that is connected to modern life, that is intersectional, open-minded, nuanced – and in its own way, radical.”
Walton said of her first non-fiction: “Writing this book has transformed how I see and value nature... At a moment when the environment is as much a source of anxiety as healing, it feels particularly vital to reveal our physical—and emotional—dependence on nature.”
Walton is currently a reader in modern literature at Bath Spa University, where the focus of her research for the last five years has been the link between nature and mental health. In 2016, she won a major research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a two-year project called ‘Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing: Connecting Health and the Environment through Literature’, and she was recently selected as a Writing Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich.