Salar the Salmon

Paperback, Little Toller Books, 2010; with an Introduction by Michael Morpurgo and illustrations by C. F. Tunnicliffe.

Book condition: good.
Price: £5.00


The publisher's blurb for the first edition (1935) reads: 'It is eight years since Tarka the Otter took the reading world by storm. Salar the Salmon is the successor to that wonderful book – a successor long and eagerly anticipated by Mr. Williamson's public.


'As in Tarka, its scene is the West Country. It is the story of a five-year-old salmon called Salar ("the leaper"), and his friends: an old and experienced sea-trout named Trutta, and Gralaks the grilse, a three-year-old maiden fish. The story begins when they come into the estuary from the Atlantic feeding banks in the early spring, and ends between winter and spring of the following year.


'The book is in four parts – Tideways, Spring Spate, Summer River, Winter Star-stream. It is a crescendo of adventures, excitements and endurances, culminating in the autumn spawning when the fish have been in fresh water more than half a year without feeding. Consider a few of the dangers which beset these noble fish – in the sea, porpoises, seals, sharks, and the most dreaded grampus; in the estuary, lampreys and the nets of fishermen; in the river, otters, herons, rod-fishermen, poachers with nets, bombs, gaffs, chloride of lime and other poisons. Then there is the danger of disease in warm, low summer water, during the months of waiting for what to the salmon is the consummation of its life – the shedding of itself for the future of the race, its immortality.


'Behind this book lies half a lifetime of close and patient study, pursued with an almost mystical zeal: imagination lighting common things. Every detail of it is based on natural fact. Mr. Williamson lives beside a river; at the bottom of his garden is a home-made hatchery in which he has been hatching salmon for many years, and he has spent over five thousand hours observing the habits of fish from trees and bridges. Salar is the fruit of a rare combination of gifts – the observation of the born naturalist, and the creative invention of a great story-teller.'


(For a further consideration of the book and the background to the writing of it, see Anne Williamson's Salar the Salmon.)