Skip to Content
H is for hawk

H is for hawk

Macdonald, Helen, 1970- author

The Birds and the Beesseries was designed for Vintage Classics by Timorous Beasties, the Scottish studio famous for their designs inspired by the natural world. As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. Years later, when her father died, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. Her story is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. WINNER OF THE 2014 SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE

Paperback, Book. English.
Published London: Vintage Classic, 2016

No availability records for this item


Statement of responsibility: Helen Macdonald
ISBN: 1784871109, 9781784871109
Note: Originally published: London: Jonathan Cape, 2014.
Note: Formerly CIP.
Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Physical Description: 336 pages ; 18 cm.
Series: The birds and the bees
Subject: Hawks.; Macdonald, Helen, 1970-; Grief.; Spirituality.; White, T. H. (Terence Hanbury), 1906-1964.

Author note

Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, illustrator, historian and affiliate at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Her books includeFalcon (2006) andShaler's Fish(2001).


"It justsings. I couldn't stop reading."||"This beautiful book is at once heartfelt and clever in the way it mixes elegy with celebration: elegy for a father lost, celebration of a hawk found - and in the finding also a celebration of countryside, forbears of one kind and another, life-in-death. At a time of very distinguished writing about the relationship between human kind and the environment, it is immediately pre-eminent."||"H is for Hawkis a dazzling piece of work: deeply affecting, utterly fascinating and blazing with love and intelligence. The result is a deeply human work shot through.with intelligence and compassion. I will be surprised if a better book thanH is for Hawkis published this year."
Financial Times||"I'm convinced it's going to be an absolute classic of nature writing."
Guardian||"I can't remember the last time a book made me feel so many different things in such quick succession."
Guardian||"[Macdonald's] descriptive writing, startlingly and devilishly only the half of it. She has written her taming of Mabel like a thriller, slowly and carefully cranking the tension is that your stomach and heart leap queasily towards each other. Captivates."
Observer||"Captivating. There is a highly polished brilliance to her writing. The English-speaking world has an old passion for books about creatures and captivating companions . Helen Macdonald looks set to revive the genre."
Mark Cocker||"Nature-writing, but not as you know it. Astounding."
Bookseller||"It is a mark of Macdonald's achievement that so exultant a book can resolve itself in a sense of failure, yet leave the reader as uplifted as a raptor riding on a thermal."
New Statesman||"MacDonald's prose is poetic, forensic, yet often capable of quickening the pulse. Her vivid and joyous, soaring as freely as birds do."
New Scientist