Patrick Barkham

Published: 3 May 2018
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 368 pages
ISBN: 9781783781904

Other Editions


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Published: 5 October 2017
ISBN: 9781783784752

Ebook Available

About the author

Image of Patrick Barkham

Patrick Barkham was born in 1975 in Norfolk and is Natural History Writer for the Guardian. He is the author of The Butterfly Isles, which was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize; Badgerlands, which was also shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Wainwright Prize; and Coastlines. He lives in Norfolk. More about the author


‘[A] wonderfully warm-hearted social, natural and above all literary history of the islands that surround the larger island of Britain... a thing of real beauty [with] lucid, meticulous prose... It's rare to read a book as good-spirited as this, where the narrative voice is so eager, inquisitive but non-judgemental, the worldview so benevolent and open-hearted... Brimming with nature, literature and the eccentric life of the islanders Barkham meets, this is a fitting tribute to the strangeness and beauty of our British isles’ Alex Preston



Islander captures the mood of the indescribable uniqueness of the lives of inhabitants of small islands... Barkham's immersed empathy gives the reader a passkey to a glorious experience: sharing the views as if we had undertaken the pilgrimage with him’ Rosamund Young

‘An extraordinary book’ Steve Wright

‘An illuminating and instructive 'tour d'horizon' [...] snappy too... Strong on flora and fauna [Barkham] is equally good on people’ Michael Kerr

‘Barkham is blessed with a talent far rarer in nature writers than a corncrake in Surrey - he has a wonderful sense of humour and can be very funny... He also has an eye for the quirky and counterintuitive in the human world... Islander is a charming and attractive book... his shrewd study of the islander mentality [...] could stand for the entire country’ Hugh Thomson

‘Barkham takes a warm, witty and wise look at 11 of the 6,000-plus islands that comprise the British Isles. As he explores the tensions of tourism among the natives of 'idealistic' Eigg and gets giddy with the wildlife on the 'lost' island of Hirta in St Kilda, a vivid picture of contemporary life on these remote locales unfolds beautifully’

‘Barkham visits all sorts of weird and wonderful people on each land and paints a vivid and at times idiosyncratic picture of life cut off from mainland Britain, but he also seriously examines the perennial appeal of island life for many. Barkham is an engaging guide... [whose] strengths are his evocative nature writing and his literary research - he is good at tying in previous literary visitors and history to his contemporary narrative, finding resonances and nuance wherever he goes’ Doug Johnstone

‘Barkham, a lovely, fluid writer [...] has a wonderful eye for detail... This is poetry’ Marcus Berkmann

‘Barkham's place writing makes the book's setting a joy... This insightful and beguiling book is a great guide and tribute to our [islands]’ Horatio Clare

‘Barkham's vibrant travel book [...] unearths a rich vein of history... Full of fascinating detail, his book succeeds superbly in conveying the difficulties and allure of island living’ Ian Critchley

‘Beguiling... [Barkham] teases out the magic of what it is to be an islander. Terrific armchair travel’

‘Deeply informative yet deeply personal... a riveting narrative Dan McCarthy

‘Enchanting and lyrical, Islander is a book of many wonders; a book of coasts and heartlands, of peripheries and interiors -- and a profoundly moving portrait of our natural world’ Nicholas Crane, author of The Making of the British Landscape

‘It is very rare for me to read a book and think, gosh I really hope the author writes a sequel... it is an achievement to find something new to say, particularly about the Western Isles and Orkney... Barkham has a keen eye [and his] triumph is to write a book about islands that is more concerned with politics than periwinkles... A complete delight’ Stuart Kelly

‘Like the water between his islands, Barkham's book shimmers - with curiosity, wisdom, cleverness, and wonder. He's shrewd, merry and generous; a splendid shipmate and yarn-spinner, and the perfect companion as you shuffle together along a beach’ Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

‘Like the water between his islands, Barkham's book shimmers - with curiosity, wisdom, cleverness, and wonder. He's shrewd, merry and generous; a splendid shipmate and yarn-spinner, and the perfect companion as you shuffle together along a beach’

‘Lively... memorable... As an accomplished writer of natural history, Barkham is at his best in this book on flora and fauna’ Ian Jack

‘Patrick Barkham [is] an enlightening guide... he comes equipped with a good travel writer's eye for quirky facts and telling statistics and a fair-mindedness which allows him to tell the (often conflicting) stories of each island partly in the words of its current inhabitants... the travel narrative is an accommodating form, and Barkham uses its many registers well’ Annette Kobak

‘Patrick Barkham is one of the best nature writers in the UK today... [Islander] is a glorious book

‘This vibrant journey round some of Britain's many islands is full of fascinating detail’

‘Thoughtful naturalist Patrick Barkham [...] explores not only some of the UK's 6,289 smaller offshoots but also the notion of what it is to belong on one’

‘Tremendous... [The islanders'] stories, so beautifully told, are the lifeblood of this wonderful book’

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