Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781474609487

Price: £8.99

ON SALE: 18th March 2021

Genre: Earth Sciences, Geography, Environment, Planning

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‘The best piece of nature writing since H is for Hawk, and the most powerful work of biography I have read in years’ Neil Gaiman

‘Wonderful – I can’t recommend it too highly’ Helen Macdonald

‘One of those rare, enchanted books’ Isabella Tree

‘Beautiful – it made me cry’ Simon Amstell

‘I was entranced’ Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is a story about birds and fathers.

About the young magpie that fell from its nest in a Bermondsey junkyard into Charlie Gilmour’s life – and swiftly changed it. Demanding worms around the clock, riffling through his wallet, sharing his baths and roosting in his hair…

About the jackdaw kept at a Cornish stately home by Heathcote Williams, anarchist, poet, magician, stealer of Christmas, and Charlie’s biological father who vanished from his life in the dead of night.

It is a story about repetition across generations and birds that run in the blood; about a terror of repeating the sins of the father and a desire to build a nest of one’s own.

It is a story about change – from wild to tame; from sanity to madness; from life to death to birth; from freedom to captivity and back again, via an insane asylum, a prison and a magpie’s nest.

And ultimately, it is the story of a love affair between a man and a magpie.


Gilmour's unforgettable memoir is both a beautiful piece of nature writing about caring for a magpie and a brutally honest account of his difficult relationship with his late father, the poet Heathcote Williams.
Sarah Hughes, I NEWSPAPER, Best Books of 2020
Featherhood is an incisive, funny and at times traumatic study of the damage done by destructive father-son relationships.
Bird and author explore this explosive terrain in an exhilarating dance of transformation, from wild to tame, captivity to freedom and darkness to light.
Ariane Bankes, THE TABLET, Best Books of the Year
Redemptive, beautifully written and often very funny, this is a moving study of the power of human (and magpie) love to repair even the most wounded heart.
Jane Shilling, DAILY MAIL
[An] affecting and beautifully written memoir.
THE BOOKSELLER, Editor's Choice
Featherhood is an incisive, funny and at times traumatic study of the damage done by destructive father-son relationships and the struggle to smash generational cycles.
I'm having a lovely time with Featherhood by Charlie Gilmour. He is such a tender writer, the book is a magical encounter with birds and fathers.
Andrew O'Hagan in GUARDIAN
A beautiful book, sensitive and compelling - it made me cry
Simon Amstell
A delicately choreographed story of salvation through a bird, with echoes of Barry Hines's classic A Kestrel For A Knave.
Craig Brown, MAIL ON SUNDAY, Best Books of the Year
A good time in a weird way - I have never read anything so filthy
Nell Zink, author of THE WALL CREEPER
A profound exploration of grief, fragmented families, nature versus nurture and whether we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers. But it is also a gladdening celebration of what it is to nurture and bring forth new life.
What a book! I was entranced. A personal reckoning which is simultaneously brutal and joyous. It's full of light. I want to tell everyone about it
Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of THE LAST ACT OF LOVE
A soaring debut... A sincere and searing tale of loss, addictive despair, the redemptive power of love, the natural world and a shit-dropping, feather-moulting talking magpie... This will undoubtedly be held up alongside H Is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald's memoir that saw her tame her grief and a bird of prey in her living room. But Featherhood is an equal, if not better, work of magpie investigation that ranks among the best modern coming-of-age memoirs.
FEATHERHOOD, it would be tempting to say, is where Helen Macdonald's H Is For Hawk meets Gerald Durrell's My Family And Other Animals. But Charlie Gilmour's memoir is so original and ingeniously wrought, it stands on its own as a book to which others will surely be compared... Gilmour's language is as precise as his gaze is forensic. He is something of a magician himself, conjuring whole vivid personalities with a few deft strokes of his pen... He can slay you with his succinct summoning of a small boy's struggles... and he can dazzle you with the gem-like images of nature he creates which, like all writers who draw you into their orbit, thrum with life... Remarkable.'
Ginny Dougary, DAILY MAIL, Book of the Week
Beautiful, wise, compassionate and powerful, Featherhood is one of those rare, enchanted books that sings to the soul of what it is to be
Isabella Tree, author of WILDING
Featherhood is one of the best books I've ever read. I urge you to seek it out, buy it, and be enchanted. It's incredibly moving and I loved every single page
Elton John
A tender coming-of-age memoir. It's an intelligent debut that shows that Gilmour, for all his celebrity family connections, is undoubtedly a remarkable writer in his own right.
Lucy Knight, THE SUNDAY TIMES, Memoir of the Year
This stunning memoir flashes with as many colours as its enchanting subject, and draws us into a world of eccentric characters impossible to predict or forget. Savage, mischievous, moving, sublime
Rhik Samadder, author of I NEVER SAID I LOVED YOU
A wonderful, moving book. His account of raising a young magpie offers a lovely insight into this fascinating bird
James Macdonald Lockhart, author of RAPTOR
Wonderful - I can't recommend it too highly
Helen Macdonald, author of H IS FOR HAWK
Utterly absorbing, astonishingly well-written, full of heart, Featherhood is the most arresting book I've read for a very long time
Cressida Connolly, author of AFTER THE PARTY
I loved Featherhood. About nature and growth, about belonging and not belonging, it is beautiful
Andrew O’Hagan, author of THE ILLUMINATIONS
Gilmour... is fearless in sharing himself with readers. As he works through his relationships, the emotional freight is not always subtle, but this comes from a generosity and openness on his part, which, ultimately, is what makes "Featherhood" so lovely and inviting. Gilmour practices no magic here; he distracts the reader with no glitzy baubles. He gives us a man and a bird and tells us, best he can, what they've come to know about the world as it is. He is willing to spill a little blood.
Touching and true, with flashes of black humour, it's a fascinating story. It's also a brilliant examination of nature vs nurture. Gilmour is certainly a born writer.
Cressida Connelly, THE SPECTATOR, Books of the Year
It is wise, self-aware, never forced, often funny, beautifully crafted, and, in the end, as moving as Kes, that other great work about a boy who is given the gift of liberation by a bird.
The best piece of nature writing since H is for Hawk, and the most powerful work of biography I have read in years. It announces Charlie Gilmour as a major new writing talent
Neil Gaiman
Written with economy, insight, and rare beauty - a perfect nature memoir for our times
Andrew Lycett, THE SPECTATOR
Emotional, touching and often odd, Gilmour's memoir about two key relationships - one with his late father and the other with a magpie - lingers long after the final page.
Sarah Hughes, I NEWSPAPER
The extraordinary story of an extraordinary family
Sophie Heawood, author of THE HANGOVER GAMES