Six Facets Of Light is “a portrait of the transitoriness, randomness, swiftness, frustrations and quicksilver beauty that are the essence of light”.

Biographer and The Economist obituaries writer Ann Wroe has written a series of meditations on the nature of light, set mostly on the South Downs and the coastline of East Sussex.

She interweaves her experiences of light in nature, jotted down as she walked the South Downs, with the observations, jottings and thoughts of writers, painters and scientists – writer Johann Goethe, scientist Galileo, physicist Albert Einstein, Romanticist landscape painter JMW Turner, poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Dante and painter Eric Ravilious, to name but a few.

She explores how painters experienced light in different ways: Turner squatting by the Thames to marvel at the parallel ripples made by the wind, tide and light, Samuel Palmer describing in a letter, “Mad I mean to be, till I get more light. And wherever I find it, I will turn to it like the sunflower”, and the presence of light on a white surface described by Vincent van Gogh as “paralysing”.

Ann, who lives in Brighton and London, describes her book as “not scientific and only occasionally philosophical – it is really just a love song to light, sung by myself and the various poets and painters, of many eras, who have walked along with me”.

She tells Simply Worthing, “I do think the light on the Sussex coast is remarkable and I think it’s the unique combination of the sea and the chalk landscape. It’s like a different country. Other places have a different kind of light: on the east coast of the US it is sharp and interesting, on the Greek islands it creates intense colours, Wales and the Lake District are beautiful but have an intrinsic darkness.

“I tried to see as a painter sees – I’m not a photographer but I took notes to preserve the memory of what I saw. I started to observe light at ground level by lying down on grass. There is no better way to commune with light than to lie down on grass – you can observe and define the way light keeps skipping through it. It is always changing. There’s intoxication, especially in early summer, in that lush softness and the smell of growth, or in the way a great hill of smooth turf curves upwards into the blue.

“This heady, vertiginous journey from the tiniest sand grain to infinite space is one that we can all attempt. Just banish distractions, put away the phone, lie down in the grass, look at the clouds, listen to the wind – and see what happens.

The author of seven books, Ann begins Six Facets Of Light in Eastbourne, the sunniest town in Britain, according to weathermen. “Everything dazzles, or is bleached out,” she writes. “A man walking a dog across the lawns becomes a radiant ghost of himself. Teapot, cups and spoons blink blindingly on a table. The sea breaking on Holywell Ledge by the westernmost tea chalet sparkles in sequinned foam...”

She also concludes the final chapter, entitled Immortal Diamond, in Eastbourne, where the artist Eric Ravilious was brought up in the early 1900s. She observes that the huge black granite rocks piled towards the sea at Holywell, “are not from hereabouts” and that “by a blue southern sea, under a southern light, their crystals of northern quartz and mica flash out like diamonds”.

She intersperses her observations of the mundane – “an old couple picnic prudently at the base [of the rocks], with a thermos and a bag-for-life from Asda, carefully handing each other sugar, teaspoons and milk in a screw-top jar” - with the words of poets such as Blake: “Every angle is a lovely heaven”, each one made a prism to take in or send out light.

“Light lords it here”, she writes of Sussex, “and the land is built from it.” Her own fascination with it began in childhood, recalling how she “first tried the alchemy of writing to describe the way sunlight played in pom-poms of pink blossom on a cherry tree” as she walked to school. She described the moment as “important”, the image of the tree “waiting to break free”. She felt triumphant that the letters “gradually made branches in which the pink blossom blew again, this time my own creation, and light flashed and leapt, like a dancer”.

• Six Facets of Light by Ann Wroe, published by Jonathan Cape, priced £25.