H is for Hawk

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H is for Hawk
H is for Hawk (Macdonald novel).jpg
AuthorHelen Macdonald
PublisherJonathan Cape
Publication date
Pages300 pp.
AwardsSamuel Johnson Prize, Costa Book of the Year

H is for Hawk is a 2014 memoir by British author Helen Macdonald. It won the Samuel Johnson Prize and Costa Book of the Year award, among other honours.


H is for Hawk tells Macdonald's story of the year she spent training a northern goshawk in the wake of her father's death. Her father, Alisdair Macdonald, was a respected photojournalist who died suddenly of a heart attack in 2007. Having been a falconer for many years, she purchased a young goshawk to help her through the grieving process.


The book reached The Sunday Times best-seller list within two weeks of being published in July 2014.[1]

In an interview with The Guardian, Macdonald said, "While the backbone of the book is a memoir about that year when I lost my father and trained a hawk, there are also other things tangled up in that story which are not memoir. There is the shadow biography of TH White, and a lot of nature-writing, too. I was trying to let these different genres speak to each other."[2] White was the author of The Goshawk (1951), an account of his own attempt to train a goshawk.[3]

Judges of the Samuel Johnson Prize specifically highlighted that marriage of genres as one of the reasons for selecting H is for Hawk as the winner.[2]

An extract of this book is also part of the anthology of Edexcel English Language IGCSE in the new specification.


In "H is for Hawk: A New Chapter", part of BBC's Natural World series in 2017, she trained a new goshawk chick.[4]

Awards and honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cambridge News, Interview: Cambridge author Helen Macdonald on grief, goshawks, and her best-selling book, H is for Hawk Archived 2015-02-06 at the Wayback Machine, Cambridge News, 7 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b Stephen Moss, Helen Macdonald: a bird’s eye view of love and loss, The Guardian, 5 November 2014.
  3. ^ Jameson, Conor (January 2014). "A place for the misfit". British Birds. 107 (1): 2–3. ISSN 0007-0335.
  4. ^ "H is for Hawk: A New Chapter". BBC. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  5. ^ Clark, Nick. "Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction: Helen Macdonald wins with 'H is for Hawk'". The Independent. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Helen Macdonald wins Costa Book of the Year 2014". BBC News. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b "'H is for Hawk' shortlisted for the 2014 Duff Cooper Prize, longlisted for the 2014 Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015". The Marsh Agency. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  8. ^ "2016 Carnegie Medals Shortlist Announced". American Libraries Magazine. October 19, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  9. ^ "Meilleur livre étranger | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 22 October 2017.