Esther Rutter

Esther Rutter is a Scottish non-fiction writer based in Fife. She read English at Oxford University’s Magdalen College and also works as a freelance Project Manager for UNESCO, developing cultural engagement projects in collaboration with Edinburgh’s City of Literature Trust. From 2017-2020 she is Writer in Residence at the University of St. Andrews, within the School of Geography and Sustainable Development. Esther’s brilliant work has earned her both awards and creative grants and, signed by Granta Books, her first book This Golden Fleece was published in 2019. Knitter, natterer, singer, and hill-walker, Esther is a vibrant and key member of Scotland’s literary scene.

Instagram: @thisgoldenfleece

Esther Rutter is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Jenny. For all enquiries contact

Books by Esther

All Before Me: A Search for Belonging in Wordsworth’s Lake District

Granta Books, March 2024

In her early twenties, Esther Rutter suffered an acute mental breakdown while teaching English in Japan. Sectioned and held in a Japanese psychiatric institution until she could be flown home under escort, her recovery only began when she came to live and work in the Lake District at Dove Cottage, the home of William and Dorothy Wordsworth.

Here, amid the beauty of the mountainous landscape and close to the extraordinary legacy of the Wordsworths, Esther began to heal. Like Dorothy and William before her, whose search for Dove Cottage was borne out of the dislocation they experienced during their childhood, Esther realised that she was looking for a place to feel at home, and most like herself. In the Wordsworths’ lives and writings, she discovered an approach to understanding herself as sophisticated as the psychoanalysis of Freud that followed a century later: a desire to ‘see into the life of things’ through personal reflection, and the belief that the experiences of ordinary people are intrinsically worthwhile and important. And in the community of fellow interns, colleagues, poets and villagers, she made lifelong bonds of friendship, and finally, love.

All Before Me is a moving and absorbing account of the struggle to know oneself on the journey into adulthood, intertwined with the stories of the Wordsworth siblings at Dove Cottage. In the beautiful hamlet of Town End, where a cultural epoch was borne that would forever shape the way we experience the world, Esther found the spirit of place to sustain and anchor her, and make possible all that lay before her.

Praise for All Before Me: 

With this powerful, affecting memoir of a year immersed in the realm of arguably England’s greatest poet, Rutter has distilled perfectly a combination of landscape, history and personal memoir into an extraordinary book. Skilfully structured and benefiting greatly from the hindsight of the intervening years, All Before Me had this Wordsworth fan flipping through the Wordsworth sections to seek out the next step in Rutter’s brave, honest and uplifting journey back to herself
– Charlie Connolly, The New European

This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain’s Knitted History

Granta Books, 2019

Over the course of a year, Esther Rutter – who grew up on a sheep farm in Suffolk, and learned to spin, weave and knit as a child – travels the length of the British Isles, to tell the story of wool’s long history here. She unearths fascinating histories of communities whose lives were shaped by wool, from the mill workers of the Border countries to the English market towns built on profits of the wool trade, and the Highland communities cleared for sheep farming; and finds tradition and innovation intermingling in today’s knitwear industries. Along the way, she explores wool’s rich culture by knitting and crafting culturally significant garments from our history – among them gloves, a scarf, a baby blanket, socks and a fisherman’s jumper – reminding us of the value of craft and our intimate relationship with wool. This Golden Fleece is at once a meditation on the craft and history of knitting, and a fascinating exploration of wool’s influence on our landscape, history and culture.

Praise for This Golden Fleece

“I’ve been captivated by Esther Rutter’s absorbing history of wool and her intimate, inspiring mediation of the craft and history of knitting. She’s an instinctive storyteller, with a brilliant eye for detail, and brings startling new, and forgotten, histories to the surface. I’m thrilled to be welcoming her to the Granta list.” –Bella Lacey of Granta Books

‘You don’t have to be a knitter to enjoy this wondrous book, although as one, I did smile through most of its pages‘ –BBC Countryfile

‘[Rutter] is a likable guide with a good eye for a story… This is antiquarianism with a modern twist‘ –Guardian

‘[Rutter] is a personable companion… [This Golden Fleece has a] fluent narrative, its pace an easy knit-one, purl-one‘ –Mail on Sunday

‘An engaging and highly informative read‘ –Knitting magazine