2020 Longlist

Bird Cottage


Translated from the Dutch by Antoinette Fawcett

2020 Longlist

I want to find out how they behave when they’re free.

Len Howard was forty years old when she decided to leave her London life and loves behind, retire to the English countryside and devote the rest of her days to her one true passion: birds.

Moving to a small cottage in Sussex, she wrote two bestselling books, astonishing the world with her observations on the tits, robins, sparrows and other birds that lived nearby, flew freely in and out of her windows, and would even perch on her shoulder as she typed.

This moving novel imagines the story of this remarkable woman’s decision to defy society’s expectations, and the joy she drew from her extraordinary relationship with the natural world.

About the Author

Eva Meijer is a Dutch author, artist, singer, songwriter and philosopher. Bird Cottage is her first novel to be translated into English, has been nominated for the BNG and Libris prizes in the Netherlands and is being translated into several languages. Eva Meijer was awarded the Halewijn Prize in 2017 for all of her published works.

Librarian’s Comments

At the age of 40, violinist Gwendolen “Len” Howard (1894 – 1973) exchanged the company of humans for that of birds.  A fictional biography of a woman who had an extraordinary relationship with birds.  In her bird cottage in Ditchling birds fly freely in and out. Howard even taught birds to count! Little is known about this eccentric woman, but Meijer has written a moving tribute. A beautiful book where you can hear the birds twitter in your head. De Bibliotheek Utrecht, The Netherlands

Amazing novel about the life of British amateur ornithologist Gwendolen (“Len”) Howard (1894 – 1973). She radically pulled back from society and broke up her musical career to devote her whole life to the world of birds. Very little is known about the real life Howard, but Eva Meijer evokes Howards life with birds in this fictional novel in an impressive way. Meijer makes the reader understand birds through the eyes of Howard. The novel has been nominated for the large Dutch  BNG and Libris prizes.  The Libraries of The Hague, The Netherlands



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