A highly-regarded book by a professional Suffolk hedgelayer and coppicer is set to be launched next year after the US and UK rights were acquired by a publisher.

Richard Negus of Finningham, near Stowmarket, works in partnership with Richard "Gouldy" Gould at traditional hedgerow-laying business R&R Countryside Services.

His observational work - Words From The Hedge: A Hedgelayer’s View of the Countryside - was acquired by Unbound, which plans to publish it in March 2025.

Unbound described the book as "the definitive insider’s guide to one of the most essential yet often overlooked elements of the British countryside – the hedgerow".

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It is a "passionate evocation of the history, beauty, and importance of our hedgerows by a craftsman with over 20 years’ experience", it said.

John Mitchinson, publisher and co-founder of Unbound, secured the rights after acquiring the book from Emma Shercliff of Laxfield Associates.

It is the first book in a new scouting partnership between Unbound and writer and editor Patrick Galbraith.

As well as his day job laying hedges, Richard is part of trio of conservationists co-ordinating the High Suffolk Farm Cluster - a Nestlé-backed conservation project which involves 12 farms across Mid Suffolk working together on a landscape scale to help nature.

He has written features for various magazines - including Suffolk magazine - but said this was his first foray into writing a book.

"This is hugely exciting for me personally, and the opportunity to work with a publisher as influential as Unbound is a huge boon not only for my writing, but more importantly for the many conservation minded Suffolk farmers who have for far too long gone unheralded in a wider audience," he said.

He wrote it because he felt "our much loved, yet misunderstood, hedgerows needed a practical champion".

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"The English hedgerow is the epitome of man-made ‘nature’ - you cannot rewild a hedge," he explained.

"These barriers of thorn, scrub and briar were planted, then laid, trimmed, cut or coppiced by man for agricultural purposes but they also provide a remarkable source of food, habitat and safety for wildlife.

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"The book is written from my own first-hand experience as a professional hedge layer. It has mud under its nails and thorns wedged painfully in its palm."

John said he was drawn to stories of people who work with the land - and praised the talents of the author.

"Patrick Galbraith has a near mystical knack of finding the ones that can also write - like the astonishing Richard Negus. This is the best possible start to an exciting collaboration," he said.

Patrick is also a big fan of Richard Negus's book and said it was "an immense privilege" to be publishing a "modern pastoral by a writer who knows how to use a billhook".

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"There are lots of very good books on the countryside and conservation but it’s rare to find a book this good, written by somebody who is out there, day in day out, making rural Britain a richer place where endangered wildlife has a chance to thrive," he said.

The premise is that farmland hedgerows - which are man-made - are too often taken for granted. The book explains how they are much more than decoration or boundary markers - and are the countryside's arteries, sustaining a diversity of plant and animal species.

Richard describes the wildlife - robins, linnets, wrens, turtle doves, hedgehogs, shrews, voles, deer, foxes, beetles, aphids, mites - and the part they play in the inner life of the hedge.

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He also offers an insight into a "lively band of fellow countrymen and women" involved in modern farming and land ownership - as well as making a case for retaining ancient rural skills and knowledge.

Agent Emma Shercliff said she was "thrilled" Richard had found the "perfect, passionate team" at Unbound to bring his much-celebrated writing to a wider audience.

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"When I set up a literary agency in Suffolk, it was with the aim of representing authors who are based locally, write beautifully and have an urgent voice that can shape national debates and conversations. Richard epitomises these aims," she said.

Author of The Running Hare and two-times winner of the Wainwright Prize John Lewis-Stempel has written a foreword to the book.

"Richard Negus shows us the wondrous life of the hedge, but above all how hedges, and the philosophy of human-nature partnership they embody, can mend the countryside. Hedges are the way ahead. And in Richard Negus they have their one true champion," he said.