Come to the forest, sit by the fireside and listen to intoxicating song, as Sam Lee tells the story of the nightingale.
Every year, as darkness falls upon woodlands, the nightingale heralds the arrival of Spring. For thousands of years, its sweet song has inspired musicians, writers and artists around the world, from Germany, France and Italy to Greece, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
This is a unique and charming biography of an infamous yet elusive songbird. With dozens of illustrations, the naturalist, renowned musician and folk expert Sam Lee tells the full story of the nightingale. The Nightingale reveals in beautiful detail the ornithology of the bird, exploring its habitat, characteristics and migration patterns, as well as the environmental issues that threaten its livelihood.
From Greek mythology to John Keats, to Russian folk songs and A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square, Lee delves into the various ways we have celebrated the nightingale through traditions, folklore, music, food and literature, from ancient history to the present day.
Sam Lee is a Mercury Prize-nominated folk singer, naturalist and curator. Before becoming a musician, he was a wilderness survival expert. He is known as a traditional music specialist dedicated to collecting, restoring and sharing ancient music from Britain and Ireland. He has written music for films and TV, including King Arthur and Peaky Blinders. Sam is a regular guest teacher on the Goldsmiths popular music degree, and previously lectured at SOAS, Oxford University and Newcastle University. He was the first-ever folk singer to teach at the Royal College of Music.
"Wondering and wonderful. The nature book of the year."
– John Lewis-Stempel
"This lovely book is almost as thrilling as the bird's immortal song – balm for a troubled soul and a glimpse of paradise"
– Joanna Lumley
"Sam Lee has brought the poetic magic that has long enchanted so many of his musical fans into the written word. Allow yourself to glimpse the world Sam sees, to be part of his love affair with the nightingale, and you will no doubt be delighted."
– Lily Cole
"A wonderful book."
– Stephen Moss
"A magical marriage of the lyrical and practical: a book that makes us want to seek out the nightingale and then reveals how we can."
– Tristan Gooley
"A beautiful, lyrical, heartfelt book [...] Certainly my appreciation of however many nightingalers are left to me will be for ever heightened by the time I've spent with this generous, sensitive book about our most glorious songbird"
– Alex Preston, Observer