This is the third anthology of Trad’s Diary, cherry-picking the past ten years. The previous two covered the years 1975 to 2008. Alan Titchmarsh has said some kind things about Trad’ and others have said the short entries make for a good last-thing-at-night bedside book. Was it kind to call me, as one reader did, ‘Booze and Snooze’?
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 47 years.
Sitting in the Shade
Gardening / Published in 2021
The Story of Wine – From Noah to Now
Wine / Published in 2020
A completely new edition published by the Academie du Vin Library:
When first published in 1989 The Story of Wine won every wine award in the UK and the USA. It is widely regarded as Hugh Johnson’s most ambitious and enthralling book, writing it, according to Hugh, was like trying to get ‘a quart into a liqueur glass’. It is not just one story but a collection of many, scanning the wine world from Noah to Napa, from Pompeii to Pomerol, as illuminating to our understanding of civilization as it is to our appreciation of wine.
Chronicling the making, merchandising and drinking of wine through millennia, this beautiful new edition is fully updated to include Johnson’s view of the evolution of wine over the past 30 years. As historian Andrew Roberts says in his foreword: “The genius of The Story of Wine derives from the fact that it is an adventure story, full of mysteries, art and culture.”
World Atlas of Wine 8th edition
Wine / Published in 2019
I started work on The World Atlas of Wine almost 50 years ago, in 1970. After four editions, at six-year intervals, I canvassed the help of my friend Jancis Robinson, and subsequent editions went from strength to strength, while she established herself and her website, jancisrobinson.com, as the leading wine authority of our day.
This eighth edition is in my view the best yet; a true tour de force, redesigned and rewritten for a very different world from the first – or even the seventh. Total worldwide sales of the Atlas are approaching five million copies in 14 languages. I’m afraid your previous editions just don’t quite cut it any more.
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book
Wine / Published in 2019
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, 42 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 2020 edition in the picture.
Hugh Johnson on Wine
Wine / Published in 2016
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
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.
Penelope Hobhouse wrote: ‘Whenever I’m stuck on something and don’t know where to look, I turn to Hugh Johnson, and there it is. The Principles of Gardening really is the one gardening book I couldn’t do without’.