He stares down at us enigmatically from the corbels and capitals of churches across Europe -as well as from innumerable pub signs. Leaves and foliage issue from his mouth, or even sprout luxuriantly from his face. He is evoked in the leaps of English Morris Dancers -but he also pops up on the walls of a Jain temple in Rajasthan. Though no-one knows for sure the real meaning of the Green Man, everyone who sets eyes on him understands that he stands for something very profound -indeed, archetypal- in our culture. He represents the fertility and fecundity of the harvest, perhaps -but also the process of death and rebirth, corruption and resurrection. Whatever his elusive significance, humankind's abiding fascination with the inscrutable Green Man has endowed our churches and temples with an astonishing array of carvings, stone heads, stained glass and paintings, by turns beautiful and sinister. Mike Harding's travels around Britain, and as far afield as Nepal and Borneo, have yielded this bestselling little book on the Green Man, from mediaeval to Victorian, both a magnificent photographic record and a definitive work in miniature on the strangest of mythical men.
Mike Harding is the author of A Guide to Tying North Country Flies and eight Little Books for Aurum, including the perennially successful books on the Green Man and Gargoyles. He is also a high-profile radio presenter with his weekly folk music show on BBC Radio 2, and hosts the annual BBC Folk Awards. He lives in West Yorkshire.