The Immortal Yew

Tony Hall

The Immortal Yew

Tony Hall

Distributed for Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

224 pages | 100 color plates | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 | © 2018
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9781842466582 Published January 2019 For sale in Canada, Mexico, and the USA only
As some of the oldest living organisms to be found in Europe, yew trees have become inextricably bound up in some of the oldest enduring institutions of European culture. In The Immortal Yew, Tony Hall explores the biological, cultural, and mythic significance of these imposing evergreens. Supporting a range of animals and plants, yew trees foster new life by contributing to biodiversity in their surroundings. But their common occurrence in churchyards and their evergreen leaves have given them a separate folk status as symbols of life—in the British isles, they have come to represent the resurrection and eternal life central to the Christian faith. Their enduring significance to British culture extends beyond the church, however—even the founding political document of British government, the Magna Carta, is believed to have been sealed beneath a yew tree.

Despite the enduring presence and significance of the yew tree across a millennium of British history, this seemingly immortal stalwart faces new threats in the twenty-first century as elderly trees near the end of their lives and global climate change threatens the next generation. Perhaps by spending time in the generous shade of one of the yew trees Hall documents in this beautifully illustrated book, a new generation might begin to learn the importance of protecting its legacy and invest in its future.
Review Quotes
Victoria Glendinning | Literary Review
"Tony Hall, author of the Immortal Yew, is arboretum and gardens manager at Kew, and writes with such lucidity and authority that I believe anything he writes. A yew can be disciplined, but leave it untended for a few centuries and it develops a weird habit of growth, the vast girth of the hollow trunk encircled by arcades and pillars formed by thickened and gnarled roots. Hall illustrates his book with his own colour photographs of ancient British specimens, all of them outstanding, and—more or less—upstanding. . . . This is a handsome book."
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