Esther Woolfson

Esther Woolfson grew up in Glasgow and studied Chinese at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Edinburgh University. Her acclaimed short stories have appeared in many anthologies and have been read on Radio 4. She has won prizes for both her stories and her nature writing. She has been the recipient of a Scottish Arts Council Travel Grant and a Writer’s Bursary. Her latest book, Field Notes from a Hidden City (Granta Books), was shortlisted for the 2014 Thwaites Wainwright Prize for Nature and Travel Writing. She lives in Aberdeen.

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

Books by Esther

Between Light and Storm: How We Live with Other Species

Granta, 2020

A landmark new book about the fraught relationship between humans and animals that takes us from Genesis to climate change. Beginning with the very origins of life on Earth, Woolfson considers pre-historic human-animal interaction and traces the millennia-long evolution of conceptions of the soul and conscience in relation to the animal kingdom, and the consequences of our belief in human superiority. She explores our representation of animals in art, our consumption of them for food, our experiments on them for science, and our willingness to slaughter them for sport and fashion, as well as examining concepts of love and ownership.

Drawing on philosophy and theology, art and history, as well as her own experience of living with animals and coming to know, love and respect them as individuals, Woolfson examines some of the most complex ethical issues surrounding our treatment of animals and argues passionately and persuasively for a more humble, more humane, relationship with the creatures who share our world.

Timely and wide-ranging, Esther Woolfson’s book offers sensitive reflections on how we relate to the animals around us as well as the animal within. –Frans de Waal

Elegiac, haunting and piercingly intelligent…A profoundly moving and important book. –Isabella Tree, author of Wilding

Field Notes From a Hidden City

Granta, February 2014
North America: Counterpoint

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 cetaceans, 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.
Granta, Feb 2013 – World

Corvus: A Life with Birds

Granta, June 2009

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.

Praise for Corvus

A delightful account … Woolfson succeeds in showing that we are much closer to birds than we think. –Daily Telegraph

Esther Woolfson has lived with a rescued rook called Chicken, as well as a magpie and a crow, and this captivating book about her experiences seamlessly mixes expertise and anecdote in a beautifully written memoir. –Evening Standard

A satisfying read from a masterful stylist, this will appeal to any fan of nature writing or personal essays. –Publishers Weekly