HAMPSHIRE’S greatest naturalist Gilbert White has inspired a new book about the artistic response to his work.

Drawn to Nature: Gilbert White and the Artists shows how many people have seen the natural world through White’s groundbreaking work in the 18th century.

White lived his life in and around Selborne near Alton and is widely regarded as the first modern nature writer.

Drawn to Nature is a book sparked by an exhibition held at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester in 2020 and written by the gallery director Simon Martin.

With an introduction by Sir David Attenborough, the book charts how Gilbert White’s view of the natural world has been channelled through the eyes of British artists including Eric Ravilious, Clare Leighton, and John Piper.

The 192-page book also includes poems inspired by White including by Kathryn Bevis, Hampshire Poet 2020-21. She was commissioned by Winchester Poetry Festival and Hampshire Cultural Trust to write a poem - A Vision for the Reverend Gilbert White - celebrating the 300th anniversary of White’s birth.

Mr Martin said the book was written during lockdown when he and millions of others were drawn to the natural world outside our windows.

Since its publication in 1789, Gilbert White’s Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne has inspired generations of artists, writers and naturalists.

From Thomas Bewick to Eric Ravilious and Clare Leighton, many artists’ depictions of animals, birds and wildlife have illustrated White’s celebrated book, together providing a microcosm of natural history illustration from the 18th century until today.

The book has had more than 400 editions and reissues and has never been out of print.

In Drawn to Nature, Simon Martin has gathered beautiful images of the extraordinary array of wildlife described by White, providing an insight into the continuing appeal and relevance of the Natural History.

This fascinating account takes us from some of the earliest published depictions of birds and animals, to pioneering nature photography, the revival of wood-engraving in the 1920s and 30s, and responses to White’s message about the natural world by contemporary illustrators such as Angie Lewin and Emily Sutton.

Drawn to Nature also includes an essay by Virginia Woolf, poems by modern and contemporary poets, and a jacket design by Mark Hearld.

It costs £25 from most booksellers.