Humanity is intrinsically bound up with nature and the natural world. We are its creatures, we depend on it for survival, we fear it, love it, deify it…and we’ve become quite good at killing it. Ours is a complex relationship as old as the species. And people have been documenting this relationship – first in art and then the spoken and written word – for millennia.

Woods fascinate us. From Dante’s famous metaphor to Tolkien’s literal walking trees, forests, glades and the fey beings that inhabit them appear in thousands of stories. Emily Tesh, author of the Greenhollow Duology, joins us to discuss the many faces of the wood. Whether these be gods, nature spirits or dryads, our folklore reveals just how deep our connection with the landscape goes.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
  • Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender (animated series)
  • Yule cats!

EMILY TESH is a fantasy and science fiction author. She grew up in London and studied Classics at Trinity College, Cambridge, followed by a Master’s degree in Humanities at the University of Chicago. She now lives in Hertfordshire, where she passes her time teaching Latin and Ancient Greek to schoolchildren who have done nothing to deserve it. She has a husband and a cat. Neither of them knows any Latin yet, but it is not for lack of trying.

Drowned Country is out now from