357 pages, no illustrations
Field Notes From a Hidden City is set against the background of the austere, grey and beautiful northeast Scottish city of Aberdeen. In it, Esther Woolfson examines the elements – geographic, atmospheric and environmental – which bring diverse life forms to live in close proximity in cities. Using the circumstances of her own life, house, garden and city, she writes of the animals who live among us: the birds – gulls, starlings, pigeons, sparrows and others; the rats and squirrels; the spiders and the insects. In beautiful, absorbing prose, Woolfson describes the seasons, the streets and the quiet places of her city over the course of a year, which begins with the exceptional cold and snow of 2010. Influenced by her own long experience of corvids, she considers prevailing attitudes towards the natural world, urban and non-urban wildlife, the values we place on the lives of individual species and the ways in which man and creature live together in cities.
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Esther Woolfson was brought up in Glasgow and studied Chinese at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Edinburgh University. Her acclaimed short stories have appeared in many anthologies and have been read on Radio 4. She is the author of Corvus: A Life with Birds, which is also published by Granta books. She has won prizes for her nature writing and received a Scottish Arts Council Travel Grant and a Writer's Bursary.