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Redbreast: The Robin in Life and Literature

By: Andrew Lack (Author), Euan Dunn (Illustrator), Richard Mabey (Foreword By)

294 pages, colour & b/w illustrations

SMH Books

Hardback | Feb 2008 | #171587 | ISBN-13: 9780955382727
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-4 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £21.99 $28/€26 approx

About this book

A celebration of the life of the robin, based on the classic Robin Redbreast by the author's father David Lack, published in 1950.

"The Robin has always been a popular British bird and was elected as our national bird in a Times poll in 1960. It has been depicted on items such as seals and referred to in literature for many centuries. In this book, Andrew, and his father before him, present numerous poems to illustrate the ways that the robin has been celebrated in literature. There is a wealth of illustrations to decorate the text, making it a delightful read."
– Derek Toomer, BTO News (March-April 2008)

"This updated version of a 1950 classic by the author's father, David Lack, explores the character of the robin through literature: mostly poetry. John Lyly's 'poor robin redbreast' tuned his note at the end of the 16th century, about the time of Shakespeare's assertion in `Two Gentlemen of Verona' that you know you are in love if you relish a love-song, like a robin redbreast – but `one bush does not shelter two robins' is a proverb from the 3rd century BC. There is much to discover and enjoy."
– Rob Hume, RSPB Birds Magazine (May-July 2008)

"David Lack, the great ornithologist who was the first expert on robin behaviour, also compiled a little literary anthology called Robin Redbreast. His son, Andrew Lack, has expanded this into a longer book with a short title, Redbreast and has found some wonderful robins, mainly in poetry. They are mostly seen as good birds. There are several accounts of them covering the babes in the wood with leaves – one with good colour sense using strawberry leaves. Other robins comfort prisoners – or unhappy monks – at their cell windows. Ted Hughes gives his robin a shirt'. Emily Bronte puts her finger on a paradox of the robin's song when she calls it `wildly tender' (just like her novel?), while Edward Thomas brings out another paradox when he writes of the robin's `sad songs of autumn mirth."
The Times (24th May 2008)

"For anyone interested in Robins, the history of ornithology, or in the Lack family's orthithological scholarship, this is an intriguing and charming book."
– TR Birkhead, IBIS

"I greatly enjoyed dipping into this treasure house of robin lore and happily commend it to all"
– Fatbirder, October 2008


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