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Jessica J. Lee

Research Assistant

Jessica J. Lee is an author and environmental historian, particularly interested in nature writing, environmental aesthetics, and botanical history. She completed her PhD on the history of Hampstead Heath in 2016. Her dissertation combined approaches from environmental history, multispecies ethnography, and participant observation fieldwork to consider aesthetics, plant science, and histories of conservation on the Heath from the eighteenth century to the present.

Jessica is the author of two critically-acclaimed works of nature writing: Turning (Virago, 2017) and Two Trees Make a Forest (Virago, 2019), which was awarded the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Canada's largest non-fiction award, and the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature. She was Writer-in-Residence and a research assistant at the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology in Berlin from 2017–2018, and is the founding editor of The Willowherb Review, a nature writing journal platforming the works of writers of colour. She has written (and presented) for The Guardian, The TLS, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, The Independent, The Telegraph, and many others. She occasionally writes a column on plant histories and migration for Catapult. Her website is

Jessica is a Research Assistant on the Wellcome-funded research project, From Collection to Cultivation, where she is developing creative approaches to communicating crop plant histories to the wider public.

Research interests

Environmental history of Britain; environmental humanities; travelogues of plant exploration and botany; parks history; natural history from eighteenth century to the present; contemporary nature writing

Selected publications


Jessica J. Lee, Two Trees Make a Forest: On Memory, Migration, and Taiwan (London: Virago, 2019).

Jessica J. Lee, Turning: A Swimming Memoir (London: Virago, 2017).

Articles and book chapters

Jessica J. Lee, 'Pond: A Dendrochronology,' in At the Pond (London: Daunt Books Publishing, 2019).

Jessica J. Lee, 'Watery Wilds: Pond Swimming and Protest on Hampstead Heath,' in Wild, ed. Solveig Bøe, Hege Charlotte Faber, and Eivind Kasa (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming).

'Wild Nights: Cruising and Landscape Management on Hampstead Heath,' in Rurality Re-imagined: Villages, Farmers, Wanderers, and Wild Things, ed. Ben Stringer (Novato: ORO, 2018).

William Darwall, Vanessa Bremerich, Aaike De Wever, Anthony I. Dell, Jörg Freyhof, Mark O. Gessner, Hans-Peter Grossart, Ian Harrison, Ken Irvine, Sonja C. Jähnig, Jonathan M. Jeschke, Jessica J. Lee, Cai Lu, Aleksandra M. Lewandowska, Michael T. Monaghan, Jens C. Nejstgaard, Harmony Patricio, Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber, Simon N. Stuart, Michele Thieme, Klement Tockner, Eren Turak, and Olaf Weyl. 'The Alliance for Freshwater Life: A global call to unite efforts for freshwater biodiversity science and conservation.' Aquatic Conservation 28 no. 4 (2018): 1015–1022.

Jessica J. Lee, 'A Walk in the Long Grass: Agriculture, Aesthetics and Wildness on Hampstead Heath,' Landscape Research 43 (2018).