The Lost Words

Given our recent lack of blog posts, this seems like an apt title to restart with. However, we have not so much been lost for words but lost in words with some rather major projects on our desks which we are gradually emerging from. And what better way to emerge than with this gem of a book, The Lost Words, written by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris.

It’s a beautiful picture book of acrostic poems aimed at rediscovering the lost words of nature that so many children are growing up unaware of. It asks the important question: why would we strive to save something if we don’t even know what it’s called? As the introduction says,

“You hold in your hands a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words. To read it you will need to seek, find and speak.”

Obviously, the poem that particularly caught our eye was ‘Conker’ featured here. It marvels at the conker – impossible to make by cabinet-maker or engineer but one of nature’s perfect creations.


The Conker House team have enjoyed some close encounters with The Lost Words in recent weeks. Jo heard Jackie speak at Beverston Church in Gloucestershire about the process of creating the book. It was a wonderful evening, in a beautiful, candlelit place that conjured the perfect atmosphere for speaking about the ancient wonders of the world – the flora and fauna that surround us. Jackie spoke about the alchemy of words and art that was at the heart of the book and her working relationship with Robert Macfarlane. She also shared some of the evolution of the illustrations, offering a rare window into the artist’s journey that readers don’t often get to see.

Meanwhile, Emma visited the exquisitely curated exhibition at Compton Verney. Though the large format book showcases both the poems and the artwork extremely well, they have even more impact when viewed as an exhibition. In particular, Jackie Morris’s simple yet extremely powerful line arts are given room to breathe and complement Robert Macfarlane’s perfectly crafted text.

The Compton Verney exhibition continues until 17 December 2017:

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