Although I was born in the northeast of England and grew up in southern Ontario, I moved with my wife in the summer of 2000 to a mountain village beside the Prespa Lakes in northwestern Greece. The first transboundary park in the Balkans, the lake basin is shared with Albania and North Macedonia, and is home to a remarkably rich range of people, birds, wild flowers, languages, mammals and habitats. It’s a place that has taught me a great deal about our complex yet indelible connections to landscape and the natural world.
My latest book, Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places, was published by Penguin in the UK in 2019 and by UGA Press in the United States in 2020. Irreplaceable celebrates those imperilled places that are increasingly vanishing from the world, exploring treasured coral reefs, tallgrass prairies, ancient woodlands, urban allotments and meadows, along with the many species under threat in them, whether they be nightingales, elephant seals, water voles, redwoods, hornbills or lynxes. Just as importantly, though, it’s a book about resistance to loss, taking its shape from the countless stories of local communities and conservationists as they set about to protect and preserve what is not only of crucial importance to the fabric of human life but irreplaceable as well. Irreplaceable was the Highly Commended Finalist for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation.
My first book, The Small Heart of Things, won the 2012 AWP Award Series for Creative Nonfiction, described by the judge Terry Tempest Williams as “a tapestry of embodied stories born out of the intimate wisdom of sweat and hunger and an earthly intelligence. At a time when we wonder where hope resides, this is a book of faith in the natural histories of community.” I’m deeply honoured by both the award and her generous, spirited words. The book was published in 2013 by the University of Georgia Press and in 2014 it won a National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature.
Other fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Emergence Magazine, The Clearing, Lush Times, EarthLines, Kyoto Journal and The Redwood Coast Review, amongst others. My essay, ‘Faith in a Forgotten Place’, won the 2011 Terrain.org Nonfiction Contest. I’ve recently finished a collection of short stories entitled All the Places We Never Went and I’m currently working on two new non-fiction books: Lifelines, a memoir about our move to the Prespa lakes region, and River Song, a journey along Europe’s last wild river, the Vjosa in Albania and the Aoos on the other side of the border in western Greece.
If you’d like to drop me a line for any reason please feel free to use the contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
41 thoughts on “Bio”
Well done Julian.
Some photos are really nice (sorry I missed you are a writer …)
Thanks for that, Giorgos. Much appreciated…
Your blog caught my eye the other day for a number of reasons, which is why I added it to my links, because I didn’t have the time to explore it then and I wanted to make sure that I could find my way back here…
One of my favorite quotes is: “The catalyst that converts any physical location – any environment if you will – into a place, is the process of experiencing deeply. A place is a piece of the whole environment that has been claimed by feelings. Viewed simply as a life-support system, the earth is an environment. Viewed as a resource that sustains our humanity, the earth is a collection of places.” ~ Alan Gussow So your tag line,”Impressions of Place” jumped out at me.
Also, are those real mushrooms in the picture above? Have you heard of Paul Stamets and his book, “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World”?
The other thing that caught my eye is that you live in Greece. When I was 15-16-years-old in the 1970s, I lived with my family in a suburb of Athens. I have many memories of hiking in the mountains around Athens, but we never visited northern Greece, where you are. While living there I made a very dear friend at the international high school, she was from Skopje, and lives there now. She came to visit me in Connecticut in 2002, and I hope some day I will be able to go visit her in Macedonia.
So I am looking forward to reading your blog!
I appreciate your stopping by, and taking so much care to look around. Glad the ideas of place resonate with you – I think the quote you’ve posted nicely sums up how I feel about our potential interactions with place: “…the process of experiencing deeply.” The notion that place “sustains our humanity” is of crucial importance at a time when landscapes are seen increasingly as resources soley to be exploited. This is certainly what is occuring where I live in northern Greece. Despite it being a national park, little credence is given, apart from a number of brave individuals and organizations, to what those places might mean in terms of an alternative set of sustaining values, both human and non-human alike. I like to think that place, in any of its possible permutations, is a potential home. When we “experience it deeply” and take the time to perceive it on its own terms, then we begin to draw near. That intimacy, for me at least, articulates a sense of home, a place of belonging. As with all homes, we tend to regard the places that we’re close to with greater care and respect.
They are indeed real mushrooms, called parasols. And they taste great with parsley and butter! I don’t know the book but I’m going to look it up – thanks for the tip!
I imagine much has changed in Athens since you were there. Tragically, many of the surrounding mountains forests suffered devastating fires over the last couple of years and there is little green cover remaining. On a positive note, however, the loss (often caused by arson, cynically set to clear the land as a way of making it eligible for development) has engendered a renewed sense of civic society and neighbourhood groups have been involved with replanting the hillslopes and urging government offices to greater protect the Athens environment.
Many thanks again, Barbara. Looking forward to following your own posts!
Best wishes, Julian
I would love to hear more about your organic market gardening. I have quite a garden here in the state of South Dakota, and love spending time in it. Best wishes to you and your photography goals.
Hi there, and many thanks for stopping by again. We don’t do nearly as much market gardening as we once did because of back problems, but it’s a wonderful joy all the same. We concentrate mostly on salads these days, growing a range of lettuce varities along with salad leaves and edible flowers. Gone are the days of working large plots of leeks, peppers, tomatoes, squash and anything else we could coax from the soil by hand!! They were great, learning days though, and formed the basis for much of our life in Greece after we moved here. Looking forward to stopping by and having an online look at your South Dakota garden! Thanks again.
Best wishes to you as well,
I came across your blog and wanted to tell you that I love reading what you write. You make what you want to say like eating good food: flavourful, fulfilling yet leaving one wanting more. You are poetic, descriptive, and I can only wish I could convey like this! Great blog, I am happy you share it.
Thanks for the very generous words, appleomyeye. It was a joy to read your comment this morning and I’m delighted that you like the writing so much. I’ve never had my work described as “like eating good food” before so I’m savouring your phrase, if I can get away with saying that! I’m very happy that you dropped by and shared in the blog; your comment was deeply appreciated and I’m looking forward to exploring your own interesting site.
….making a bit of a living from organic market gardening and selling homemade jams…..
I knew there was something about you I liked!
I can hardly wait to see where the next post takes me.
I see the connection as well! Love what you’re doing and how you’re living joyfully. Do you know the work of Sandra Steingraber by the way?
We’ll probably stay in Berlin for part 2, but after that even I don’t know where Near and Far will go! Not yet anyways. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and follow the blog. To joyful and healthy days…
I will only write that it’s a great pleasure to read your blog and watch the photos here. I’m glad to have found it and to find out that there really are people who care about nature. …well, I make pretty good powidła which is polish special kind of plum jam : )
all the best for you!
Thanks for the wonderful comment, Barbara! I’m delighted that you enjoy the blog so much. Although I love exploring cities, it is the natural world that speaks to me the most. It is in nature that I find the real wonders of the world, and I’m continually being surprised by its rich diversity and beauty.
Quite recently I was in Poland, in Szczecin, for a terrific week. It’s a country I’ve been to a few times and always immensely enjoyed, especially places like Gdansk and the Baltic coast in winter. I’d love to explore the Bialowieza Forest, though. And maybe I can try the plum jam while I’m there!
Best wishes to you and thanks again,
Such a great blog you have! Beautiful mixture pictures and texts!
Thanks very much, Michal, for the wonderful compliment! I’m delighted that you’ve enjoyed looking around and I’m excited to start following your own beautiful work as well.
I learned about your blog from the other people who nominated you for this award, so I suppose I am just continuing the tradition! Congratulations again!
I read “Time in the Karst Country” on Terrain.org and was so moved by your lyrical descriptions of what might have otherwise seemed only rocks, birds, and air that I came here for more. “The Distance Between Us” is equally beautiful, and your limping man reminds me of the walking woman who haunts my own sojourns into nature. I understand your love of land and your awareness of how it informs who we are — I will certainly be reading more. Thank you for sharing your gift.
This is a wonderful comment to find, Jenny. Many thanks for the kind and generous words, and for taking the time to have a look around and read.
As you can probably imagine, I’m very curious about the walking woman you mention, having long been fascinated by the people or landscapes or memories that haunt us, not necessarily in a negative view, but in a shadowing, contemplative sense. What do they mean? Or what do we make of their presence?
I’m looking forward to having a closer look at your own page, Jenny. Until then, wishing you wonderful wanders, wherever they lead you…
Hi Julian, really enjoyed finding your blog – I’ve just started one in a similar vein. It’s great to see such a blog on place. All best, Sam
Thanks for writing, Sam. I’m delighted that you’re enjoying the blog and look forward to exploring your own thoughts and ideas on place! Will stop by properly soon.
Until then best wishes,
Wow, what a beautiful blog! I’ve read a book called Ishmael, is your short story related to the name or theme in any way? Enjoy the great landscape and climate of the Balkan peninsula and thanks for sharing such incredible photos with us!
Thanks ever so much for the compliments! Ismail in my story is a man living in a village in Albania who is taking a few of his animals to market, and the recollections of his daughter and his childhood while journeying there. But I’ll certainlylook into the other Ishmael; thanks for the tip!
So pleased you’ve enjoyed the photos….take care,
It is my pleasure to stop by now and again and also to share your moments with others I know will appreciate. Thank you for being!
And thank you! The pleasure really is mine; what a wonderful comment to find this morning. Many thanks with a big smile!
I’ve given you a blog award: http://hearttoharp.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/wow-my-first-blog-awards/
Thanks for this very kind thought! Much appreciated, and I’ll be stopping by your blog soon to leave a comment. Hope all is well!
Found your blog when looking online directions for setting up my blog spot. What a beautiful and peaceful site. I plan to visit it often. I am preparing for writing a book with a friend about our experiences with Alzheimer’s. My friend and I both lost our husbands to the disease this past fall. Reading your beautiful words reminds me of sitting in my newly found Unitarian Church and feeling that I am at home at last!
It’s nice to meet someone who also appreciates nature and captures that beauty in your photos and words. I will be back often!
Vicky, thanks ever so much for leaving this inspiring comment. I’m very sorry to hear that you and your friend both lost your husbands and am honoured to think that reading these words has brought a little comfort at this time. It’s a pleasure to be in touch here, and I look forward to seeing where your writing takes you. Good luck with your project, and thanks again for reaching out.
My very best wishes,
Very informative. I’m enjoying pictures and notes in your blog.
Thanks for sharing …
It’s a pleasure to hear from you. Delighted that you’re enjoying the blog, and I’d like to say thanks for taking the time to stop by and read.
Best wishes from here,
Hello there, I came across your blog through Steven Nelson’s blog. He has you listed as one of his favorite blogs, so I thought I would visit your website. Your writing and your photos are beautiful. I’m glad I took the time to visit. I’m now following your blog and am looking forward to more posts! Have a great week!
Thanks ever so much for leaving a comment! Apologies for my late reply but I’ve been away in recent weeks and am just catching up with messages now that I’m home again. I’m delighted you’ve enjoyed the posts and photos here and deeply appreciate your interest. Hope all is well and sending best wishes from here – Julian
An awesome wild life journey through the snaps! Love these talking images. I know it would be very peaceful too. Thanks for sharing such nice memories!
I’m a journalist as well as a campaigner against a proposals for a clay pit and industrial recycling plant in local ancient woodland, so your blog on ancient woodland reasonated with me. I am writing a feature about the need to protect ancient woodland and it would really benefit from a comment from you. If you have the time for a chat, it would really be appreciated.
You can find out more about the development at http://www.stoptheclaypit.org.
Hi Gill – many thanks for your message and and kind words about the woodland post. I’d made a note of the Loxwood threat only recently as it happens so would be very happy to chat and provide a quote for you. I’ll email you via the address I have with your comment tomorrow if that’s okay. Speak soon and enjoy your evening. Best wishes, Julian
Thank Julian for the wonderfull things written by a nature poet like you. It allway brings me through the pages of “The Small Heart of Things”. At the moment I teach in University (Tirana, Albania), but my heart is in Prespa where I grew up. I am following your excellent blog.
Dear Spase ~ thank you ever so much for these kind and generous words. They are deeply appreciated, especially as I know how much Prespa means to you. In fact, I’m really surprised that we haven’t yet had a chance to meet, as my wife, Julia, frequently mentions you because of her work with the SPP and her transboundary projects. I do hope we have the opportunity in the near future to finally meet in person. Until then, I hope this finds you and yours well in Tirana. Sending best wishes from here and thanks again.