Books

Not to burden you with a long biography, but some people think I should explain why I have two parallel writing careers, the first (since 1960) about wine and the second (since 1973) about plants, gardening, and in particular trees.

It’s simple. I love them both; they both fascinate me in combining natural beauty and human ingenuity to create an almost infinite variety of pleasures. Wine demands commentary – if only because we spend so much money on it. It is the commercial one. Gardening and trees are just irresistible to write about. Hence Trad’s Diary, my hobby for 42 years.


Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

Wine / Published in 2017

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978, and find I am still glued to it, year after year, 41 years later. It has sold many millions of copies in a total of 14 languages (including two Chinese versions, Japanese, Russian….. (not yet Arabic), largely, I suspect, because there is nothing else like it: a list as complete as I can make it of the whole world’s wines that 1) have pretensions to quality and 2) are traded internationally or are fairly widely available. And wines of serious local interest, too.

I work with my excellent long-term editor, Margaret Rand, and a team of 30 local correspondents to collate all this info and opinion. A changing list of hundreds of dishes,  with suggestions of wines to go with them, is another feature no one else publishes. Each yearly edition comes out in the October of the previous year; hence the 2018 edition in the picture.

Hugh Johnson on Wine

Wine / Published in 2016

The subtitle says it : Good Bits from 55 Years of Scribbling. This is a trawl through my articles and books, starting in the Christmas 1960 issue of Vogue. In a way it’s a personal history of wine over half a century, serious (even profound) in parts, but essentially light-hearted.

The World Atlas of Wine

Wine / Published in 2013

The World Atlas of Wine (1971, 1977, 1985, 1994, 2001, 2007, 2013) is now in its seventh edition, Since the fifth I have been sharing the task with Jancis Robinson. Four editions solo was enough.  Jancis and her team now do the heavy lifting and have breathed new life into what has become an essential wine reference book, the first (and only) one to map in fine detail all the principal wine regions of the world, and the rest in somewhat less detail. The text, pictures and diagrams are descriptive, explanatory and we hope at times evocative and tempting.

Older editions may have the latter qualities, but things change fast. You really need the latest. The eighth is now on the stocks for publication in late 2019.

Trees

Gardening / Published in 2010

Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine. James Mitchell of Mitchell Beazley asked me what I wanted to write as a follow-up to the Atlas. When I said ‘trees’, he thought I said ‘cheese’. “No’, I said, ‘the leafy things’. ‘But they’re not a consumer subject’ said James. Nonetheless people bought several hundred thousand copies. The present book is a second edition, completely revised, nearly forty years after the first. with the considerable advantage of experience. It came out in 2010 and won a number of prizes, including, for the French edition, Arbres, the Prix P.J. Redouté for the best gardening book of the year.

Wine – A Life Uncorked

Wine / Published in 2005

This book is my recollections of 50-odd years of enjoying wine round the world, my most personal and perhaps most entertaining book if you can stand self-indulgence (by someone else).

Vintage: The Story of Wine

Wine / Published in 1989

This may be my most ambitious book, and was certainly the most enjoyable to write. In 1989 I made a 13 part TV series for Channel 4 and WGBH, the Boston Public Broadcasting Station. I then used the painstaking research to make a story out of wine history from Noah up to the 1980’s. It won every prize for wine literature that year and, in various languages, for some years later. I have often thought of updating it, but balk at the technical (and commercial) research I would have to do. There are too many take-overs to make a good story.

The Principles of Gardening

Gardening / Published in 1979

My most important book on gardening is now sadly out of print. Amazon advertises good secondhand copies for about £30.

It seemed insanely ambitious to use such a portentous title after so few years experience but Beverley Nichols had said ‘I must write my book soon before I know too much’ and I plunged in, giving myself an intensive self-education. Parts of it seem a bit dated now, but there’s nothing I’m ashamed of. I tackled garden plants styles, skills, environment and history, head on. I still learn from it when I look things up in it now.

Hugh’s Gardening Books

Trees

Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine….

Hugh’s Wine Books

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

Flower of the Week

Rosa ‘Chapeau de Napoléon’

Friends of Trad

The Garden Museum