The Falcon & The Hawk
Back in August BBC Radio presented, as part of their Afternoon Drama series, ‘The Falcon and The Hawk‘. Two narratives are interwoven, those of Helen MacDonald and J.A.Baker. Helen has had a lifelong passion for falcons, and in her youth read one of the seminal books on the subject, J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine. She mentions Baker’s writing in her memoir H Is For Hawk, but sensed at an early age that the man was walking under the shadow of something too big to be seen, and turned her attention to T.H. White’s The Goshawk. White was a famous author with a detailed and complex back-story, whereas little is known of Baker except some dry facts – his marriage, his jobs, his quiet life – and a few biographical anecdotes that suggest a young man who wanted to be a noted poet but somewhere along the way lost his imagination to the wilderness along the east Essex coast. That’s what he wrote about, in his two published books The Peregrine and The Hill Of Summer, in a singular prose style that you will rarely see matched elsewhere in literature. Passages of Baker’s prose flow through the radio play, complimented and contrasted by Helen reading her own words about Baker and about the birds they were both so obsessed with. The image you’re left with is of a hawk and a falcon, air-dancing in late afternoon light over a windswept field by the sea, and as someone who needs a ‘nature cure’ right now, that’s an image I’m going to hold on to. Highly recommended.
Above is my mock-up cover for J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine. Below is my mock-up cover for Helen MacDonald’s H Is For Hawk.