A few days ago I had a piece of wonderful news; a letter arrived from the Society of Authors letting me know that I am to receive a Roger Deakin award for my upcoming book about seashells.
Accolades aside, I feel deeply honoured to be given this award in Roger’s name. Roger is one of my favourite nature writers – I often return to his books Wildwood, Waterlog and Notes from Walnut Tree Farm and find such inspiration and joy in his words about people and nature.
What’s more, Roger was a dear friend of some of my dearest family and I now look back with huge regret that we never met. Even so, I can’t help feeling Roger was a big influence on me as I was growing up and beginning to think about the world around me; for one thing, back in the early 90s he wrote for a fantastic kids’ TV programme A Beetle Called Derek (there are barely any traces online of this pre-internet show but I do still have the T-shirt to prove it happened).
Following his dreadfully early death in 2006, Roger still pops up unexpectedly here and there. Spotting him as an unnamed character in Nick Hayes’ beautifully illustrated Rhyme of the Modern Mariner gave me a secret smile (see the snapshot above from my copy of the modern mariner). And in Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood and Dan Richards’ book Holloway we hear more about Roger and his explorations around the British Isles.
I’m about half way through writing the tentatively titled Strange Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells. I’d been holding off writing the chapters that could (finances permitting) involve some research trips further afield, and now with the kind support of the Authors’ Foundation I will be able to go on a few adventures in search of seashells and the people who work and live with them.