(Jonathan Cape 2013)
"In his first book since The Running Sky Tim Dee tells the story of four green fields. Four fields spread around the world: their grasses, their hedges, their birds, their skies and their natural and human histories. Four real fields – walkable, mappable, mowable and knowable, but also secretive, mysterious, wild, contested and changing. Four fields – the oldest and simplest and truest measure of what a man needs in life – looked at, thought about, worked in, lived with, written.
These four fields, which he has known for more than twenty years, are the fen field at the bottom of his Cambridgeshire garden, a field in southern Zambia, a prairie battlefield in Little Bighorn, Montana, USA, and a grass meadow in the Exclusion Zone at Chernobyl, Ukraine. Meditating on these four fields, Dee makes us look anew at where we live and how. He argues that we must attend to what we have made of the wild, to look at and think about the way we have messed things up but also to notice how we have kept going alongside nature, to listen to the conversation we have had with grass and fields. Four fields is a profound, lyrical book by one of Britain’s very best writers about nature."
The Running Sky – A Birdwatching Life
(Jonathan Cape 2009, Vintage 2010)
Published in the USA as A Year on the Wing – Journeys with Birds in Flight (Free Press 2009 and 2010)
The Running Sky records a lifetime of looking at birds. Beginning in summer with clouds of breeding seabirds and ending with crepuscular nightjars like giant moths in the heart of England, Tim Dee maps his own observations and encounters over four decades of tracking birds across the globe. He tells of near global birds like sparrows, starlings and ravens, and exotic species like electrically coloured hummingbirds in California and bee-eaters and broadbills in Africa. In doing so his brilliantly restores us to the primacy of looking, the thrill of watching, and takes us outside, again and again, to stand – with or without binoculars – under the storm of life over our heads, and to marvel once more at what is flying about us.
‘Thrillingly original…Dee’s extraordinary, beautifully written account of a life spent watching birds is a fine addition to the flourishing genre of British nature writing’ Lynn Barber, Sunday Times
‘The Running Sky has the makings of a classic…beautifully written, extraordinarily vigilant, and very moving…we learn a lot about ourselves as well as the fellow creatures flying through, over and around our own lives’ Andrew Motion
‘Serious and playful…creates and powerful and intensely poetic paean to what others have called the wonder of birds’ Guardian
‘A little masterpiece, like an intricate skein of all the avian life he has seen, a gorgeously overpopulated love letter to birds’ Independent
‘Its author has a forensic eye for detail and a gift for poetry…He is in the front rank of contributors to the literature of natural history.’ Daily Telegraph
‘As unexpected as it is brilliant…A moving, powerful meditation on the natural world that envelops us.’ Helen Dunmore
‘A most extraordinary, mind-changing odyssey, a 2001 bird obelisk into our muddled perceptions…hugely original and confident and brave’ Richard Mabey
‘A beautifully haunting and involving memoir. The writer’s passion for birds becomes his whole way of expressing his relationship to landscape and history and family: unsentimental and urgently contemporary’ Tessa Hadley
‘What makes his book wonderful is his passion…He captures the thrill and puzzlement of watching birds as I have never previously seen it captured’ Sunday Herald
‘To write a book about a year’s birdwatching as keenly observed as this, you have to be dedicated to the point of obsession; to write one as transcendent, you must be a poet’ The Times
‘Lyrical…sure to become a genuine addition to the literature of birds…a touchingly human document’ Daily Express
‘I think he’s created a marvel. A new species – of nature writing and autobiography. He makes you see how populated the sky is, and how busy the air. And his prose flies – soars’ Susannah Clapp
The Poetry of Birds, edited with Simon Armitage
(Penguin 2009 and 2010)
‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -
An anthology featuring one hundred and ten poems by one hundred and eight poets and representing more than two hundred species of birds from the phoenix to the wren, the nightingale to the secretary bird. A foreword by Tim Dee, an afterword by Simon Armitage and notes on all the species represented.
‘A glorious collection of works old and new. Arranged by ornithological species it helpfully features a section of notes giving further information about the birds mentioned’ Independent on Sunday
‘Powerful. A rich and sustaining larder, a marvellously realized sourcebook of flights of feathered fancy’ Guardian
‘The poems gathered here celebrate our tenuous connection to something timeless and sublime. A truly inexhaustible collection…to be read again and again’ Daily Mail
‘Compendious…offers many pleasures’ Daily Express
‘Some of the most ethereal verse ever written’ Sunday Telegraph
‘A wonderful generous anthology. A life-affirming celebration of the commonplace yet enduringly mysterious creatures we share this world with and the poetry they have inspired’ Daily Telegraph
‘Had me entranced’ Observer