Roger Deakin (1943-2006), author of the immortal Waterlog and Wildwood, was a man of unusually many parts. A born writer who nonetheless took decades to write his first book, Roger was also variously – and sometimes simultaneously – maverick ad-man, seller of stripped pine furniture on the Portobello Road, cider-maker, teacher, environmentalist, music promoter, and filmmaker. But above all he was the restorer of ancient Walnut Tree Farm in Suffolk, the heartland which he shared with a host of visitors, both animal and human, and wrote about – as he wrote about all natural life – with rare attention, intimacy, precision and poetry.
Roger Deakin was unique, and so too is this joyful work of creative biography, told primarily in the words of the subject himself, with support from a chorus of friends, family, colleagues, lovers and neighbours.
Delving deep into Roger Deakin's library of words, Patrick Barkham draws from notebooks, diaries, letters, recordings, published work and early drafts, to conjure his voice back to glorious life in these pages. To read The Swimmer is to listen in to a dream conversation between a writer and those who knew him intimately.
Patrick Barkham is the prize-winning author of five books, including The Butterfly Isles, Badgerlands and Wild Child. He is the Guardian's natural history writer, an environmental campaigner and has edited a collection of British nature writing. Like Roger Deakin, he lives in East Anglia.