The Shepherd’s Life 

This book is being treated to a post of its own for various reasons including the fact that it is the only library book I have finished reading in March so far.


I began following @herdyshepherd1 on Twitter a few years ago. I probably heard about his account from the magazine, Cumbria Life, where he was writing a regular column. I thoroughly enjoyed his Tweets and the associated photos. He managed to keep his identity a secret for a long time.

When this book was published it was also serialised on Radio 4. I remember listening to some of it. I have only recently laid my hands on a (hardback) copy, which I found fascinating. I had borrowed a later book The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd from the library. It complements the first book, although it can be read without having read the earlier book.

The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District is autobiographical. It is well-written and explains a lifestyle which the majority of people in towns and cities know little about. Reading it after Burning Secrets, I discovered how flocks had been built up again following the devastating outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.

The author, James Rebanks, used his Twitter account wisely and built up a huge following before his books were published. Having followed him on Twitter I am aware of some events which happened to him (or his family) after those included in the book. It is a bit like fitting a jigsaw puzzle together.

He was the shepherd I mentioned in a poem I wrote, March.

I consider this to be a very important book and recommend it. (It won one prize and was short-listed for two others.)