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190 × 135 × 12 mm
168 pages
86 illustrations, 59 in colour
01 Oct 2009

Snail Peter Williams

For most of us, snails do not elicit feelings of warmth or affection. Apart from our repugnance at its appearance, our relationship with the snail has been influenced by the harm it has inflicted over the years on our garden seedlings. With Snail, Peter Williams wishes to change our perspectives on this little but much maligned creature.

Beginning with an overview of our relationship with snails, slugs and sea-snails, Williams goes on to examine snail evolution; snail behaviour and habitat; snails as food, medicine and the source of useful chemicals and dyes; snail shells as collectible objects; and snails in literature, art and popular culture. The book concludes with a plea for a reconsideration of the snail as a dignified, ancient creature that deserves our respect, rather than one to be thoughtlessly squashed underfoot after a shower of rain.

Containing many surprising and beautiful illustrations, and a collection of recipes for those brave enough to try them, Snail will help readers get beyond the shell and slime to discover the fascinating creature inside.

‘there is more to the snail than meets the eye-on-a-stalk. From the use of marine-snail shells in antiquity and the discovery of the snail's suprisingly complex anatomy in 18th-century dissections, to the symbolism of monopods in painting and literature (they stand, or rather slime, for slowness as a way of life), this book exerts a hypnotic fascination.’ — The Guardian

‘[an] enjoyable PR job for the mollusc’ — The Independent

‘In Peter Williams' Snail, we discover that human-mollusc interactions go far further back than allotments - all the way to some of the earliest forms of money and adornment. Admirably the book also forced me to reconsider my vigorous prejudice against the slimy, seedling-munchingbeasts. In fact, the opening paragraph is so striking that it alone won me over.’ — BBC Wildlife magazine

‘Snails seems an unpromising subject for a book yet Peter Williams presents these much-maligned creatures in a sympathetic light. Many of his illustrations bear witness to the beauty of their shells, and the evolution, growth and geometry of these structures makes a fascinating story.’ — International Zoo News

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Peter Williams, who lives in Oxford, has a life-long interest in natural history and the contributions animals make to our culture. He is the author of Snail (Reaktion, 2009), also in the Animal series.

Definitions and Etymology
1  Our Relationship with the Snail
2  The Quintessential Snail
3  Sense and Sensibility
4  A Brief History of Snails
5  Sex and the Single Snail
6  Garlic Butter and Ginger Beer
7  Snail Art
8  The Snail Reconsidered
Timeline of the Snail
Appendix: The Ballad of the Veliger
Select Bibliography
Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements