Robert Twigger, poet, artist and travel author, is a lover of uninhabited islands. A lifelong passion for the Lake District led him to embark on a mission to visit all 36 islands of the region – some little more than rocks, some home only to wildlife, some the perfect spot for a night of wild camping. Armed only with an inflatable canoe, and inspired by Arthur Ransome, Wainwright, Wordsworth and other writers of the region, he journeys beyond the tourists and the busy roads, beneath the surface, to islands both real and remembered. Here the low tide of the unconscious reveals itself through the strange flotsam that it leaves on the shore – a new sense of discovery, about himself and the world we live in.
Robert Twigger has won the Newdigate Prize for poetry, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award and the Somerset Maugham Award. His twelve books have been translated into over twenty languages and cover both fiction and non-fiction, memoir and travel. He spent a year training with the Tokyo riot police, crossed Canada in a homemade birchbark canoe and was the first person to traverse entirely on foot the Egyptian Great Sand Sea. His quarterly comic of memoir and travel, This Simple Life, is available at his website.
"A Swallows and Amazons adventure for the modern day by one of the most interesting travel writers working today: 36 Islands is a journey to the forgotten parts of the Lake District that weaves together philosophy, psychology, poetry, literature, folk-lore, angry swans and damp pot noodles, and reminds us of the healing power of the forgotten wildernesses close by us"
– Dr Bijan Omrani, author of Caesar's Footprints
"A headlong plunge into the deep, dark waters of the Lake District and its islands. Packed with curious historical facts, philosophical and literary footnotes and a highly entertaining sense that every other visitor to the Lakes is an interloper, you can feel the chill of waters creeping into your bones as Twigger paddles his way to some of the most inaccessible spots of this liminal hinterland. I really enjoyed it"
– Shaun Bythell, author of Diary of a Bookseller
"Robert Twigger has an inexhaustible curiosity, a childlike desire to explore and bags of energy [...] the author is full of stories [...] He visits all the well-known lakes (and some not – who has heard of Devoke Water?), exploring islands that inspired Beatrix Potter and William Golding, as well as the ever-present Ransome. It's usually raining, but he's an irrepressible optimist [...] The world is a better place with adventurers such as Mr Twigger about"
– Fiona Reynolds, Country Life
"Armed only with an inflatable canoe, Twigger – a man resolutely fascinated by uninhabited isles – journeys beyond the tourists and busy roads to explore Cumbria's finest. In doing so, he visits both real and remembered islands, drawing inspiration from the Lakeland poets, Alfred Wainwright and others, to redraw his own map of the Lakes and visit a place very different to the one we know"
– Wanderlust, The Best Travel Books of 2022
"Beguiling [...] Here is a man who believes that through living actively rather than passively, we better value our place in this beautiful world. Here's to that"
"Into his charming, pottering narrative Twigger braids an account of the eccentric Ransome and his reason for creating the world of Swallows and Amazons [...] Twigger intersperses his narrative with a series of hand-drawn maps, giving the book a wonderfully homespun feel"
– Mail on Sunday
"Terrific [...] In the past, Twigger has written acclaimed travelogues about the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains and the Sahara. With 36 Islands, he brings the same wide-ranging curiosity and intelligence to bear as he walks, paddles and kayaks through some of Britain's most stunning, and sometimes still unspoiled, scenery [...] we learn a lot about Ransome too"
– Reader's Digest
"There is something both comical and Zen like about Twigger's work, and everyone is the better for it"
– The Scotsman, Best Books of 2022