Roger Phillips: the mushroom man

Talking of Food mourns the passing of Roger Phillips. His interview with Elizabeth Luard is one of our favourites,

As a child, Roger Phillips discovered that by picking the mushrooms on his grandparents' farm and giving them to the man who collected the milk, the milkman would come back the next day with money earned from the sale of the mushrooms. He talked to Elisabeth Luard about his life, from his childhood commercial interest in mushrooms to becoming an authority on wild food and fungi in particular.

It was while working in advertising that he became a photographer. He wanted to help his son "get mud on his boots" and teach him about our native plants, and the photographs he took of the wild flowers he found led to his first publication. He became a prolific author of books, not only on plants and trees, but also on wild food. He also took over the garden in Ecclestone Square in London and published more volumes on many varieties of garden plants with his collaborator, Martyn Rix.

However, mushrooms and fungi have remained a lifelong passion, and following a book on the mushrooms of Britain, he produced a volume on those of North America. These two have earned him his reputation as an authority on fungi and the soubriquet of "The mushroom man".

Elisabeth Luard explores all of this in their conversation.

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