Ring of Bright Water

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Ring of Bright Water is an autobiographical book by Gavin Maxwell.[1][2] A fictionalised film of the same name was made from it[3] in 1969.[4]

Background notes[edit]

First published in 1960,[4] Maxwell's book describes how he brought a smooth-coated otter back from Iraq and raised it at "Camusfeàrna" (the name he used for his house at Sandaig near Glenelg), on the west coast of Scotland. He took the otter, called Mijbil, to the London Zoological Society, where it was decided that this was a previously unknown subspecies, and it was named after him: Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli. The book and film title was taken from a poem by Kathleen Raine,[3] who claimed in her autobiography that Maxwell had been the love of her life.

However, Kathleen Raine's relationship with Maxwell deteriorated after 1956 when she indirectly caused the death of Mijbil. Raine held herself responsible not only for losing Mijbil but for a curse she had uttered shortly beforehand, frustrated by their relationship: "Let Gavin suffer in this place as I am suffering now." Raine blamed herself thereafter for all Maxwell's misfortunes, beginning with Mijbil's death and ending with the cancer that took his life in 1969.[5][6]

A reviewer in the Sunday Herald described the book as having "inspired a generation of naturalists" and referred to it as a "classic account of man and wildlife" and credits it as being "one of the most popular wildlife books ever written" as over two million copies had been sold worldwide by 1999.[7]

Two sequels were published, The Rocks Remain and Raven Seek Thy Brother, and all three books were re-published as a trilogy in 2011.[8]


  1. ^ "The Ring of Bright Water Trilogy". penguin.com.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "RING OF BRIGHT WATER". kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Lister-Kaye, John (4 July 2014). "The Genius of Gavin Maxwell". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Field, Marcus (13 July 2014). "Gavin Maxwell's Bitter legacy". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Janet Watts. ""Kathleen Raine: Obituary", ''The Guardian'', London, 8/7/2003". Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-18. 
  6. ^ Dani Garavelli. ""Gavin Maxwell's Love of Nature", Edinburgh, 22/6/2014". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  7. ^ "Film helps Ring of Bright Water to shine again". Sunday Herald. 21 February 1999. Retrieved 18 November 2014 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ "Ring of bright water; a trilogy". Reference & Research Book News. Retrieved 18 November 2014 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)).