BOOKS—FICTION & NON-FICTION
‘Field Notes From a Hidden City’
An Urban Nature Diary
Granta. Published: 7 March 2013
Field Notes From a Hidden City is set against
the background of the austere, grey and beautiful northeast Scottish
city of Aberdeen. In it, Esther Woolfson examines the elements
- geographic, atmospheric and environmental - which bring diverse
life forms to live in close proximity in cities. Using the circumstances
of her own life, house, garden and city, she writes of the animals
who live among us: the birds - gulls, starlings, pigeons, sparrows
and others; the rats and squirrels; the spiders and the insects.
In beautiful, absorbing prose, Woolfson describes
the seasons, the streets and the quiet places of her city over
the course of a year, which begins with the exceptional cold
and snow of 2010. Influenced by her own long experience of corvids,
she considers prevailing attitudes towards the natural world,
urban and non-urban wildlife, the values we place on the lives
of individual species and the ways in which man and creature
live together in cities.
Field Notes from a Hidden City Reviews
‘Corvus—A Life With Birds,’
Granta, hardback 2008, paperback 2009. Counterpoint (USA) hardback 2009,
A unique memoir of a life lived with birds.
Esther Woolfson's daughter rescued Chicken, a
fledgling rook sixteen years ago. Amazed by their intelligence
and personalities, Woolfson became fascinated by corvids. Chicken,
Spike the magpie, and, most recently, Ziki the Crow have formed
sibling relationships with Woolfson's daughters and with each
other: cached food in her kitchen wall and laid eggs in her living
room; called to her at dawn, and perched companionably on her
knee of an evening; and taught her more than she ever expected
about birds and about human beings. Woolfson's account of her
experiences is funny, touching and beautifully written, and offers
fascinating insights into the closeness human beings can achieve
with wild creatures.
‘Piano Angel’—Two Ravens Press, 2008.
Two Ravens Press, 30 Oct 2008
Following the recurrence of a brain tumour, Mark
Blum chooses to return to his native Glasgow to die, leaving
behind in New York his architectural practice, and bewildered
friends and family. The processes of illness oblige Mark to re-assess
his life and to re-establish contact with his brother Daniel,
a successful photographer.
A legacy of bitterness and jealousy in the brothers’
relationship stems from their friendship as teenagers with a
young Hungarian refugee, Anci Goldman. Anci, now a widow, reads
of Mark’s death in a newspaper, and finds her feelings of loss
inseparable from her own past and history. As she embarks on
a commission to illustrate the work of Hans Christian Anderson
she revisits her childhood in post-Trianon Hungary, the precarious
days of war, and the siege of Budapest in 1945.
As Daniel comes to terms with the aftermath,
practical and political, of Mark’s death. Anci, encouraged by
her sons, decides to contact him again after forty years of silence…
'Piano Angel' Reviews
STORIES, ESSAYS & JOURNALISM
‘Possessions’: New Writing Scotland, 1983.
‘Stone Pyramid’: New Writing Scotland, 1985.
‘Kandinsky’: New Writing Scotland, 1990.
‘Letters From Another Place: ‘A Roomful Of Birds’- Collins Scottish
Short Stories 1990.
‘In the City’: ‘The Devil And Dr Tuberose’- HarperCollins Scottish
Short Stories 1991.
‘Quiet In This Time Of Change’: ‘The Laughing Playmate’- Harper
Collins Scottish Short Stories 1992.
‘Snow Again Tonight’: ‘Three Kinds Of Kissing’ —Harper Collins
Scottish Short Stories 1993.
‘At the Turn’: ‘Looking For The Spark’ — HarperCollins Scottish
Short Stories 1994. HarperCollins
‘Rosh Hashanah’ — Flamingo Scottish Short Stories 1995.
‘Corvus’: BBC ‘Wildlife’ magazine, 1992.
Guardian ‘First Person,’ August 2008 - read here
Ten Birds in Fact and Fiction’ Guardian September 2008
Article (and featured book) ‘New Books’ May/June2009.
published on Scottish Arts Council web site, September 2006 - read here
‘Trump in Scotland—The Shifting Sands,’ published in n+1, February 2009
- read here
An article on
the urban and the wild appears in the February edition of 'Earthlines'
‘Abramski’ —‘Story Time’, BBC Radio 4, 1993
‘Kandinsky’—‘Story Time’ BBC Radio 4, 1994
‘Corvus—A Life With Birds’ — ‘Book of the Week’ Radio 4,
In 2011, Esther was part of an Artists’ Residency at Aberdeen
University’s Centre for Environmental Sustainability working
with visual artists and musicians. The residency was part of
a global conference held by the university, on conflicts in conservation.
In 2012 she was Writer in Residence at Kielder as part of the
Hexham Book Festival. An account of her time there will be published
in an anthology following a continuing series of residencies