Remembering Roger Deakin

In case you’re new to the blog, I’ve been quoting from Roger Deakin’s book, Wildwood, published this year a few months after his death – various, small excerpts (I, II, III, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X) and a review (V).

Wanting to find out a bit more about the man, I rooted around the net. There’s a small archive of memories at the website of Deakin’s publisher, Hamish Hamilton, with some links to various articles. (Other stuff can be found through google.) I particularly liked the article by his friend, Robert Macfarlane. Deakin was a one-off who lived a magical life, and here are a couple of excerpts, beginning with one about his Suffolk home:

The fields, well tended but unfarmed, were also busy with life. Sparrow-hawks busked for custom overhead, deer picked their way through the hornbeam wood and tawny owls hooted from big ash trees. The land was separated into fields by a mile of massive old hedgerow, in places five metres high and five wide. Deakin had a habit of driving his cars until they were about to give out, then backing them into a particularly deep area of hedge and abandoning them, to be grown through by the briars and nested in by birds. Walking the fields with him, you would come across old Citroëns with their frog-eye headlights, peeping from the brambles. “All that needs is a new engine, and we could drive it to France,” he said, hopefully, as we passed one of these.

Deakin wrote as idiosyncratically as he did everything. Thinking my way through his house now, I can count at least five different desks, between which he would migrate according to his different moods. His sleeping-places changed, too. Over the years he had established in his meadows a variety of outlying structures, including two shepherd’s huts, an old wooden caravan with a cracked window and a railway wagon that he had painted Pullman-purple. He once emailed me happily about having been out in the wagon with the rain whacking on the roof. “An amazing thunderstorm last night as I lay listening. Like being inside a kettledrum with a whole symphony going on out there and with thunder in wraparound quadraphonic!” When he wasn’t writing, he was usually swimming, most often in his moat, or wallowing in the massive cast-iron bath that lived at the back of the house.

[…] Trees to him were herd creatures, best understood when considered in their relationships with one another (he loved the way that oak trees, for instance, would share nutrients via their root systems when one of their number was under stress). Trees were human to Deakin, and humans tree-like, in hundreds of complicated and deeply felt ways.

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2 Responses to “Remembering Roger Deakin”

  1. The Isles Project - what and why - the how’s another question « Sumptuous World Says:

    […] Macfarlane, incidentally, was a friend of Roger Deakin (see previous here), is a Cambridge University fellow and an instigator of the conference on nature and literature and […]

  2. scott wylie Says:

    wildwood is a feast for those of us who love the tree

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