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John Stewart Collis Biography

(1900–84), The Sounding Cataract, While Following the Plough, Down to Earth, The Worm Forgives the Plough

writer plough natural

Irish biographer and writer on natural history, born in Dublin, educated at Balliol College, Oxford. His early published works, which brought him little success, include the novel The Sounding Cataract (1936). During the Second World War he worked as a farm labourer in the south of England, subsequently establishing his reputation as a writer with While Following the Plough (1946) and Down to Earth (1947); richly combining philosophical reflection with a minutely detailed account of traditional agricultural work, they were issued together under the title The Worm Forgives the Plough in 1973. The books' visionary expressions of the interdependence of the human and natural orders, which also characterize The Triumph of the Tree (1950), The Moving Waters (1955), and the autobiographical Bound upon a Course (1971), gained Collis eventual acclaim as a precursor of the ecological movement. Among his numerous biographies are An Artist of Life (1959), his study of Havelock Ellis; The Carlyles (1973); and Christopher Columbus (1976).

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