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Distributed for Bodleian Library Publishing


An Anthology

Illustrated by Eric Fitch Daglish
Thomas Hardy notes the thrush’s ‘full-hearted evensong of joy illimited’, Gilbert White observes how swallows sweep through the air but swifts ‘dash round in circles’ and Rachel Carson watches sanderlings at the ocean’s edge, scurrying ‘across the beach like little ghosts’. From early times, we have been entranced by the bird life around us. This anthology brings together poetry and prose in celebration of birds, records their behaviour, flight, song and migration, the changes across the seasons and in different habitats – in woodland and pasture, on river, shoreline and at sea – and our own interaction with them. From India to America, from China to Rwanda, writers marvel at birds – the building of a long-tailed tit’s nest, the soaring eagle, the extraordinary feats of migration and the pleasures to be found in our own gardens. Including extracts by Geoffrey Chaucer, Dorothy Wordsworth, Richard Jefferies, Charles Darwin, James Joyce, John Keats, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Anton Chekhov, Kathleen Jamie, Jonathan Franzen and Barbara Kingsolver among many others, this rich anthology will be welcomed by bird-lovers, country ramblers and anyone who has taken comfort or joy in a bird in flight.

272 pages | 25 halftones | 5.125 x 7.75

Biological Sciences: Natural History

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

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"For centuries, birds have inspired the abiding interest of writers, and it’s easy to see why. . . . Studying birds inevitably leads to interest in a hundred other vivid realities of the natural world. That relationship resonates throughout the pages of Birds: An Anthology. . . Birds is really about the birds of the English countryside and how these flying wonders and their surrounding landscape shape each other. Among the standouts are contributions from Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, George Eliot and Daniel Defoe."

Danny Heitman | Wall Street Journal

"This is exactly the sort of book to have nearby when you’re simply looking to relax and enjoy the power of the written word – as well as the sight of a well-wrought woodcut – to carry you away to somewhere peaceful and filled with birds.”

The Well-Read Naturalist

Table of Contents


Introduction (c. 3-5,000 words)
Birds and birding, historical introduction
Birds and birding literature
A note on sources

A birding year: spring

Heath and Pasture

Coast, Sea and Shoreline

Moorland and Mountain

A birding year: summer

Field and Hedgerow

Town and City

In the Garden

A birding year: autumn

Flight and Migration

Hunting and Hawking

Exotics and Extinctions

A birding year: winter

Bird and Beast

Bird and Man

Sources and Bibliography
[by author with dates, and 2-5 line biography of each]


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