Tarka the Otter

Hardback, The Bodley Head, new edition, 1975; illustrated by C. F. Tunnicliffe

Book condition: very good, with dustwrapper. Some foxing to edges. Inserted is a two-page clipping from the Sunday Telegraph Magazine (Dec. 1978) on the making of the film Tarka the Otter, with colour photos. This appeared shortly before the film's premiere. The clipping has caused some staining to the front fly leaf and front flap of the dust wrapper.
Price: £5.00


Tarka the Otter came second in a 2017 poll conducted to find the UK's favourite nature book; a most commendable achievement for a book published 90 years ago in 1927. It has also received the accolade of being published, in 2009, in Penguin's prestigious Modern Classics series. It has never been out of print.


The blurb to The Bodley Head's 1978 edition reads in part: 'One night while the moon gleamed out of the clouds in the east, pale and wasted as a bird in the snow, a young bitch otter gave birth to three cubs in a hollow oak tree by the river known as Owlery Holt. The eldest and biggest of the litter was a dog-cub called Tarka, which means Little Water Wanderer or Wandering as Water, and was the name given to otters many years ago by men dwelling in hut circles on the moor.


'The story of how Tarka grew to adulthood and lived in the country of the Two Rivers, the Taw and the Torridge, until he was finally caught and killed by his enemy, the great pied hound Deadlock, is now a much-loved classic. Williamson spent five years writing it and claimed that he rewrote it seventeen times before he was satisfied with the result.


'Soon after the book was published in 1927 amid much acclaim from the now legendary critics Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy and Thomas Hardy, it was awarded the Hawthornden Prize. Since then it has been translated into many different languages and reprinted countless times.'


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