In this beautifully written nature narrative, Tiffany Francis explores nocturnal landscapes and investigates how our experiences of the night-time world have permeated our history, folklore, science, geography, art, and literature.
Darkness has shaped the lives of humans for millennia, and in Dark Skies, author Tiffany Francis travels around Britain and Europe to learn more about nocturnal landscapes and humanity's connection to the night sky.
Over the course of a year, Tiffany travels through different nightscapes across the UK and beyond. She experiences 24-hour daylight while swimming in the Gulf of Finland and visits Norway to witness the Northern Lights and speak to people who live in darkness for three months each year. She hikes through the haunted yew forests of Kingley Vale, embarks on a nocturnal sail down the River Dart, feeds foxes on a south London estate, and listens to nightjars churring on a Sussex heathland.
As she travels, Tiffany delves into the history of the ancient rituals and seasonal festivals that for thousands of years humans have linked with the light and dark halves of our year. How has our relationship with darkness and the night sky changed over time? How have we used stars and other cosmic phenomena to tell stories about our lives and the land around us?
Chapter One: Witching Hour
Chapter Two: Ghost Stories
Chapter Three: Polar Night
Chapter Four: Taxus Baccata
Chapter Five: Greenwich
Chapter Six: Under Dark Skies
Chapter Seven: The Mountain
Chapter Eight: The Wickerman
Chapter Nine: Midnight Sun
Chapter Ten: Fern Owl
Chapter Eleven: The Dart
Chapter Twelve: Poet Stone
Tiffany Francis is a writer, artist and environmentalist from the South Downs in Hampshire. With a mixed background in the arts, rural heritage and conservation, her work is fuelled by a love for the natural world and a passion for protecting it. She writes and illustrates for national publications and has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4. Her first book Food You Can Forage was published in March 2018.
"Beautifully written [...] Francis combines memoir, history and some glorious landscape writing to provide a thoroughly absorbing evaluation of the role of darkness and night in our literature, culture and, most importantly, our environment."
– Charlie Connolly, New European
"Rich in literary references, Dark Skies is also rippled through with memoir [...] it's a warmly personal narrative."
– Suzi Feay, Financial Times
"A genuinely inspiring and poetic tale of a year spent exploring the natural world under dark and sometimes star-filled skies."
– Peter Fiennes, Author of Oak and Ash and Thorn
"This is a book of amazing ideas, many of them counter-intuitive. Mark Moffett's astounding stories of animal societies persuaded me that the future of human cities have been foretold by the ants. Read this manifesto if you like to have your mind changed."
– Kevin Kelly, former editor of the Whole Earth Review, founder of WIRED Magazine, author, internet guru