Project Description

The Big Book of Birds of Britain.

Photographs by John d Green. 

Ormond Yard Press: Bringing You The Bigger Picture.

The Big Book of Birds of Britain, with photographs by John d Green, is the latest book from our publishing arm, Ormond Yard Press, and features the very best from John d Green’s Birds of Britain archives. It is being published in March 2017, and the window for pre-orders is now open.

As with all Ormond Yard Press volumes, it is a book on a spectacular scale: a hardcover volume housed in its own printed slipcase and measuring 24 inches high x 18 inches wide (60x45cm) when closed, 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90cm) when open, with 96 pages of photographs. The physical scale may be large, but the edition size is reassuringly small – just 750 individually signed and numbered copies are available to collectors worldwide.

The front cover of the book (in slipcase). Dimensions 24 inches high x 18 inches wide. Big.

Pre-order The Big Book of Birds of Britain now

£ 395

(with free UK delivery)

Pre-order The Big Book of Birds of Britain

More about the book 

The Big Book of Birds of Britain, a sequel to John d Green’s classic 1967 Birds of Britain book, is being published in a staggering large format limited edition. This is the definitive book of photographs from John d Green’s outstanding Birds of Britain archives.

The Big Book of Birds of Britain is a book on a spectacular scale. All our books are produced in an epic physical size, with a mammoth 24 x 36 inch spread size when the book is open. The Big Book of Birds of Britain includes approximately 200 photographs over 96 pages, and contains a wealth of previously unpublished photographs, including an entirely new species of bird, not included in the original book.

Why is this book important? Because something revelatory happens when a photograph is presented in a very large format like this: hidden details come to light, and the power and impact of the image are magnified exponentially. Unless you go to a gallery and see a large format print on the wall, you can’t experience this. That’s where we come in. Our books package the essence of large format gallery exhibitions, without reducing the impact of scale. Imagine an entire art gallery exhibition that you get to take home and keep forever.

The Big Book of Birds of Britain defies the normal ‘coffee table’ convention. In fact, it is like no book you will have seen before: much larger than a traditional coffee table volume, it is slim and elegant at the same time. It is housed in a beautiful custom slipcase. The cover of the book and slipcase have been deliberately left free of text so that nothing detracts from the power of the images. As a result, the book looks like a work of art you could hang on your wall. And in fact you can, as we have developed a special slide-in-slide-out frameless acrylic display unit that enables you to do just that. More on that later.

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Sample pages from The Big Book of Birds of Britain

Take a look at some of the double page spreads from The Big Book of Birds of Britain in the slideshow.

In the book each of these spreads measures 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90cm.)

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Birds of Britain (1967)

Historical context

Birds of Britain, an acclaimed book of photographs by John d Green, was published almost 50 years ago, in September 1967.

The book featured John d Green’s strikingly individual, unconventional and witty portraits of 58 of the girls who made London swing – actresses, models, aristocrats, fashion designers, boutique owners and pop singers.

The cover featured a close-up colour portrait of Pattie Boyd, scrunching her nose to try and shake off a beetle painted with a union jack, while inside the covers, the spectacular portraits were all black and white.

A contemporary review called it “one of the most exciting photographic picture-books in a time of picture-books.”

Birds of Britain was a huge mainstream success, selling 60,000 copies (at a time when most coffee table books would have a print run of 3,000 copies), prompting newspaper headlines and serializations, TV appearances, outrage from parents of some of the girls featured in the book, a lavish launch party at Sibylla’s nightclub, a high-profile promotional tour of the USA for John, his friend, art director David Tree, and some of the girls, and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

It had all started 18 months earlier, over a pint of beer in Kensington’s Adam and Eve pub with friends in early 1966.

John d Green, then one of Britain’s top advertising photographers,  had cut his teeth photographing  every consumer product imaginable. He was at the top of his game, and highly regarded in the advertising industry, but little known outside it. It was time, he felt, to turn his attention to London’s female pacesetters.

The plan, conceived that night in the Adam and Eve by John and his friends and work colleagues David Tree, Terry Howard and Rowland Wells, was to create a fun coffee table book celebrating all the ladies who were key movers on the London scene. In the process, John would have the well-deserved opportunity to raise his profile outside the advertising industry.

The first shoot, with Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon, photographed covered in engine oil, took place on 29 April 1966. Just under twelve months later, in his final session for the book, John photographed Cetra Hearne in a haze of pipe smoke. Six months work on design and layouts and subsequent printing followed, with his close collaborator and art director on the project, David Tree.

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Limited edition photographs

A number of John’s images are available to purchase as signed limited edition photographs.

We feature these and others in our gallery exhibition Birds of Britain

View the limited edition photographs

The Big Book of Birds of Britain (2017)

The Big Book of Birds of Britain is a completely new book – it is not a reissue of  the 1967 volume.

John’s original negatives from his 1966 and 1967 sessions have been stored safely for fifty years, and contain a treasure trove of unseen images. We have been through everything with John and have come up with a selection of the very best material – a selection of approximately 200 photographs.

The Big Book of Birds of Britain contains a wealth of previously unpublished material, alongside a selection of the most important photographs from the original book.

We present these in a range of physical sizes, governed of course by the overall 24 x 36 inch spread size of the book when opened.

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The Big Book of Birds of Britain facts and figures

This ultra-large-format book measures a staggering 18 x 24 inches (45 x 60cm) when closed, and 36 x 24 inches (90 x 60cm) when open.

The Big Book of Birds of Britain has 96 large format pages, with approximately 200 stunning black and white photographs, reproduced in sizes up to 24×36 inches (60x90cm). It is limited to 750 individually numbered copies worldwide, each one signed by John d Green.

The Big Book of Birds of Britain is housed in a custom protective slipcase.

An optional acrylic slide-in slide-out wall unit allows you to display The Big Book of Birds of Britain on your wall.

Pre-order The Big Book of Birds of Britain

Ormond Yard Press: Bringing You The Bigger Picture

Charlotte Rampling, photographed with Green Shield stamps at John d Green’s Kensington studios, 5 May 1966. 

John d Green

John d Green won his first camera aged 10 – a prize for taking a photograph with a pinhole camera made from a mustard tin. The irony would not be lost in later years on John, who, in a dazzling career as a top advertising photographer in the early sixties, would go on to photograph a great deal of mustard.

John left school at 15 and began a six year apprenticeship at a firm of commercial photographers in London, learning all aspects of the business. It was only in the fourth year of his apprenticeship that he was allowed to use the company’s studio and take pictures for the first time. He never looked back. He rented his first studio in Knightsbridge, funded with £70 cash and an overdraft as long as his arm. From the off, his work was highly regarded by art directors from top advertising agencies, and within two years he was able to buy a studio in Adam & Eve Mews,Kensington,where he would be based for the rest of his career.

Whatever spare time he had in the sixties was spent motor racing, and he frequently raced at Brands Hatch and other circuits all over the country in his Marcos GT. Birds of Britain might never have been, as John almost came to a sticky end at Whitsun in 1966. He was racing at Brands Hatch when he ran out of road at the circuit, his car somersaulted four times, and he crashed into a bank. To the surprise of spectators, John was able to crawl out from the wreckage with nothing more than a broken ankle.

After the success of Birds of Britain, John moved away from photography and launched a floating nightclub and restaurant on the Thames called the Sloop John D, which he ran for four years, and then sold. He returned to photography and specialised in shooting luxury cars on location, and subsequently fashion and beauty. He then retired, never taking a photograph in anger again. John now divides his time between London and the Balearic Islands, where he is a passionate sailor.

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Hang your book on your wall

Make no mistake, this is a big book, and we wanted to give you some different display options. Of course you can put it on your coffee table or (big) bookshelf, but we felt it deserved something a bit special. With each of our books, we took a conscious decision to keep the covers free of text, so that nothing would detract from the power of the chosen front and back cover images. That notion gave rise to the idea of this display unit – because it means you can, should you choose to, display your book just like a piece of art on the wall.

Constructed from 5mm clear acrylic, this is a solid, simple and practical way to display your book on your wall in its slipcase. It measures 18.5 inches (w) x 25 inches (h)  x 1.5 inches (d). That’s approximately 47cm x 64cm x 4cm. It has curved edges, and a split baton hanging system on the reverse. Acrylic feet at the bottom ensures that it hangs parallel to the wall. It is a nice, elegant, simple, solid piece of work.

It is open sided on the left and right, allowing you to slide your book (and please read ‘book’ as ‘book and slipcase’ here) in and out whenever you want to look at the contents. You also have the flexibility to show the front or the back of the book and flip it over if you feel like a change of view.

Buy a wall display unit

Display units are discounted for a limited time.

They cost £ 150 (and ship with the book.)

Buy the display unit

Here come the girls

The Big Book of Birds of Britain features Julie Christie, Charlotte Rampling, Alexandra Bastedo, Pattie Boyd, Cathy McGowan, Jane Birkin, Mary Quant, Martine Beswick, Mary-Gaye Curzon, Annabella Macartney, Viviane Ventura, Diana McLeod, Susan Maughan, Sue Cornwallis, Juliet Harmer, Marianne Faithfull, Sue Murray, Suzanna Leigh, Vicki Hodge, Susannah York, Sarah Miles, Ingrid Boulting, Sue Lloyd, Angela Pringle, Sandra Paul, Shirley Watts, Paula Noble, Dusty Springfield, Hayley Mills, Jane Asher, Susan Hampshire, Lulu, Jacqueline Rufus Isaacs, Annegret, Cetra Hearne, Chrissie Shrimpton, Cilla Black, Claire Bewick, Edina Ronay, Fay Browning, Ilona Rodgers, Ingrid Hepner, Shirley Scott James, Jacquetta Lampson, Jane and Victoria Ormsby-Gore, Helen and Catherine Jay, Mary Bee, Paddy Carrington-Bates, Pat Booth, Rory Davies, Samantha Juste, Sandy Shaw, Shirley Anne Field, Sibylla Edmonstone, Venetia Cuninghame and Victoria Mills.

Birdmaniacs should note that one of the above ladies is a completely new discovery and did not feature in the original 1967 book.

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Testimonials

I have placed my order already. My tattered copy of the original 1967 book is going to have a shiny new big sister!
James H from the UK
Pre-order The Big Book of Birds of Britain

Why a Big Book of Birds of Britain ?

I first discovered John d Green’s 1967 Birds of Britain in a second hand bookshop more than 20 years ago, and I have cherished it ever since. I loved every aspect of it – starting with that bold cover without text, featuring a tightly cropped photograph of a girl with a bug on her nose. I loved the fact that that bug was painted with a union jack, and later learned that the girl was Pattie Boyd. I had not heard of the photographer John d Green before then. There was some information on him towards the back of the book, along with the coolest author photograph I had ever seen. He looked like James Bond and seemed to have a lifestyle just like 007.  Years passed and I dipped into the book from time to time. Occasionally I would see another copy in a bookshop on trips around the UK , Europe and the USA. 

When I set up Ormond Yard Press, the publishing arm of our gallery business, in 2011, it was to produce ultra-large-format books that mainstream publishers wouldn’t or couldn’t do.  Could we put out a new book of Birds of Britain photographs?  That would involve firstly finding John d Green, and secondly establishing whether there was enough material to make a book like this worthwhile.

Finding the man was proving tricky – in fact downright impossible. He was nowhere on the internet and was definitely off the grid. Very Bond-like. That made the hunt even more interesting. At a dead end after a couple of years searching  through the established channels, it was time for serendipity to come into play. A family lunch and a conversation around the table about my quest brought a cough from my godfather and the immortal words – “I know  John – he was my neighbour. I probably still have his phone number.” He did – and we talked, and we met – and to cut a long story short, we agreed to do this incredible book together. 

John had kept all his original negatives carefully stored under lock and key for 50 years. Typically, for each of the original Birds of Britain shoots – and there were almost 60 of them over a 12 month period from April 1966 to April 1967 – John had selected one image for publication in the 1967 book from the many rolls of film produced on the day. The other session photographs contained equally strong candidates, and together with John we have sought to select the very best of these for inclusion in this new book. John’s records were complete enough for us to date the shoots precisely, and those shoot dates build up a fascinating picture of just how much time John spent on the project in 1966/7, when he was very much a full time advertising photographer. 

The fact that John’s archive has been kept off the internet has, for me, given this projerct an extra special twist, as the book will include photographs that no-one will have seen before.

I am tremendously proud of this new book, and hope that you enjoy it.

Guy White, Publisher, Ormond Yard Press.

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Questions?

If you have any questions at all about The Big Book of Birds of Britain please just ask – we are here to help.