The story of Sunflower

The story of Sunflower Books began in 1973, when John and Pat Underwood first visited Madeira on their honeymoon and fell in love with the island. They returned year after year, making notes about their favourite walks – many of which were along the levadas (watercourses with adjacent footpaths, which penetrate virtually every part of the mountainous terrain). (Click for some additional information about levadas.)

Seven years later, they decided to let other walkers in on their ‘secret’ paradise. At that time, John was a toxicologist and Pat, who had previously worked for a leading US publisher, had her own typesetting business – enabling them to publish a little 64-page book called Landscapes of Madeira themselves. It was a big success. In its 3rd edition it won the prestigious Thomas Cook Award for Best Travel Guide, and the Sunday Times commented that the book had single-handedly transformed the nature of tourism on the island. Now in its 14th edition and expanded to over 200 pages, the guide contains 100 long and short walks.

In 1983 a limited company was formed, and gradually more and more titles were added to the list, all modelled on the successful ‘Landscapes’ recipe of car tours, picnic suggestions and day walks for all ages and abilities.

Although they are chiefly thought of as walking guides, the ‘Landscapes’ series is much more than that. They are also touring guides with island or area maps. It doesn’t matter whether you tour by car, bicycle or public transport. The tours are arranged to take you to the best viewpoints at the right time of day (avoiding the crowds wherever possible) and to the starting points for our favourite walks and picnics. (The short walks to picnic spots are ideal for hot days, for those with young children … and for those who would prefer to be tackling a stiff mountain path but find that they are no longer as fleet of foot or stout of limb.)

While ‘Landscapes’ guides are still the main focus of Sunflower’s publishing programme, two newer series have also attracted countryside enthusiasts… and people who enjoy good cooking. 

‘Walk & Eat’ guides, first published in 2006, describe easy-moderate walks with restaurants en route, together with their typical menus. There are also recipes for some of the local speciality dishes. Several of these books are ‘city guides’, but with a difference: they cover surrounding areas easily reached by public transport. 

Being essentially countryside guides, both ‘Landscapes’ and ‘Walk & Eat’ guides are designed to be used in tandem with a general guide.

But the third series, the ‘Sunflower Complete’ guides, stand on their own. They combine the best features of a ‘Landscapes’ guide with all you would expect in a general guide: getting there and getting about, accommodation and restaurants (with prices), practicalities A-Z, history, fold-out touring maps, town plans, plans of ancient sites and many ‘feature’ panels. In addition, each has 20+ main walks, illustrated with topographical maps.

Company Information – how to contact us

We no longer provide a mail order service for printed books. Amazon sells all our books very efficiently and usually at a substantially discounted price. If you prefer not to buy from Amazon, other retailers such as branches of Waterstones (, Stanfords in London ( or The Map Shop in Upton-upon-Severn ( will be happy to supply you.

Head Office (for queries and editorial):
P. A. Underwood Ltd (trading as Sunflower Books*)
PO Box 36160, London SW7 3WS
Tel: 020 7589 2377

*‘Sunflower Books’ and the ‘Landscapes’ Series are registered trademarks in the UK. ’Sunflower Books’ is a registered trademark in Germany and in the United States of America.

Our head office handles editorial matters and general queries. No book stock is held at our London office and we regret there is no facility to sell books to personal callers. If you are in London and particularly wish to look at one of our books before purchasing, we recommend calling in at Stanfords at 7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9FA (nearest Underground Covent Garden). Stanfords normally has all our books in stock.

AUTHORS who wish to submit manuscripts (proposals for books) should note that we publish just three series (the ‘Landscapes’ series, the ‘Sunflower Complete’ series and the ‘Walk&Eat’ series) and under no circumstances can we consider books that would not fit into one of these formats. (We are sometimes sent proposals for children’s books, poetry books and other unsuitable projects largely, we suspect, because the senders have seen the name Sunflower and have made assumptions about what we publish!). Items of this sort are immediately rejected. Moreover, manuscripts for possible inclusion in the Landscapes series have to be prepared in a clearly defined style to match our existing titles. For this reason, potential authors are strongly advised to contact us BEFORE commencing work on a title being written with a view to inclusion in one of our series. Proposals (in writing, please) should be addressed to the Commissioning Editor, Sunflower Books, PO Box 36160, London SW7 3WS. (Please do NOT submit proposals in the form of attachments sent by e-mail; we NEVER open attachments from senders not known to us. It is important that we receive proposals in hard-copy form as we cannot afford to spend time printing out submissions that may be of no interest to us.)

E-mail : Our e-mail address is

IMPORTANT: Please do NOT send any attachments when e-mailing. Due to the risk of viruses we immediately delete any attachments except when they are from people who are well known to us. Please include anything you wish to send us (for example, update information) in the e-mail itself, but please keep e-mails as short as possible – we are inundated with e-mails every day.

Company registration details:
Registered in England No: 1800900
Registered address: 42-44 Clarendon Road, Watford, WD17 1JJ
VAT registration number: 241 3331 09