The biography of countryside pioneer Ethel Haythornthwaite

Author: Helen Mort (foreword by Dame Fiona Reynolds)


Special edition hardback available to order now*

'Sensational. An extraordinary biography of a truly extraordinary woman.' – Maxine Peake

Pioneer, activist, environmentalist, poet. Ethel Haythornthwaite is virtually unknown, even in her home town of Sheffield – the UK’s outdoor city – yet her tireless campaigning led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and the creation of the Peak District National Park, protecting a wild and varied landscape so many have fallen in love with. In Ethel, award-winning author Helen Mort explores the life of this countryside revolutionary. 

Ethel also includes a full reproduction of Ethel's long-form poem The Pride of the Peak, originally published in 1926. 

CPRE logo

Ethel is published in partnership with CPRE Peak District & South Yorkshire.

*Special edition hardback details:

  • Alongside the standard paperback edition, we will publish 250 special edition hardback copies. These will be numbered, and signed by Helen. They will be available to order exclusively from the Adventure Books website.
  • They will be casebound in Wibalin cloth with silver foil blocking to the spine.
  • The printed dust jacket will be finished with a matt laminate and spot UV detailing.
  • Vertebrate Publishing is committed to printing on paper from sustainable sources and both the hardback and paperback will be printed in the UK on Forest Stewardship Council-accredited papers.

Pioneer, activist, environmentalist, poet. Ethel Haythornthwaite is virtually unknown, even in her home town of Sheffield – the UK’s outdoor city – yet her tireless campaigning led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and the creation of the Peak District National Park, protecting a wild and varied landscape so many have fallen in love with. Founder of a local society to protect rural scenery in 1924, she went on to join the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) and become its wartime director. Saviour of the beautiful Longshaw estate, her achievements also include establishing the first green belt in the UK.

In Ethel, award-winning author Helen Mort explores the life of this countryside revolutionary who has been overlooked by history. Born into wealth yet frugal, ever restless but infinitely patient, widowed at twenty-two, independent and thoroughly ahead of her time, Ethel Haythornthwaite helped save the British countryside at a time when simply to be a woman was challenge enough.

Having been given unrestricted access to Ethel’s archive, including hundreds of meticulously written letters, in Ethel, Helen Mort has written letters to Ethel’s memory and a paean to her legacy. The beauty and accessibility of the British countryside is the result of passionate campaigning during the inter- and post-war years by groundbreaking figures such as Ethel Haythornthwaite.

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985 and grew up in nearby Chesterfield. She is a multi-award-winning poet and author, and her published work includes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, with a particular interest in women and mountaineering. She is a five-time winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award, and her first poetry collection, Division Street, was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize, and won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. Her first novel, Black Car Burning, was longlisted for the Portico Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize. She has been the Wordsworth Trust Poet in Residence and the Derbyshire Poet Laureate, and was named as one of the Royal Society of Literature’s 40 under 40 Fellows in 2018. She has written for the Guardian, the Independent and appeared on television and radio. In 2017, she was a judge for the Man Booker International Prize and chair of judges for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature. She has taught creative writing for over ten years and is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. A Line Above the Sky, her first work of narrative memoir, was featured in the Guardian and Evening Standard’s ‘books to watch’ lists and won the Grand Prize at the 2023 Banff Mountain Book Competition. She lives in Nether Edge, Sheffield, with her family and dog, Denver.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews

Great service, lovely looking book. Will start reading it soon. 😁


Beautiful book poetically written.