Venue: Walled Garden.

Alex Preston is a bestselling and award-winning novelist, most recently of the critically-acclaimed In Love and War. His new non-fiction work is As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and Books, a stunning exploration of birds in literature, from Ovid to Ted Hughes.

When Alex was fifteen, he stopped being a birdwatcher. Adolescence and the scorn of his peers made him put away his binoculars, leave behind the hides and the nature reserves and the quiet companionship of his fellow birders. His love of birds didn’t disappear though. Rather, it went underground, and he began birdwatching in the books that he read, creating his own personal anthology of nature writing that brought the birds of his childhood back to brilliant life.

Preston’s personal and eccentric narrative is as much about the joy of reading and writing as it is about the thrill of wildlife. Moving from the ‘high requiem’ of Keats’s nightingale to the crow-strewn sky at the end of Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, from Ted Hughes’s brooding ‘Hawk in the Rain’ to the giddy anthropomorphism of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, he will make you look at birds, at the world, in a newer, richer light.

Alex appears regularly on BBC television and radio. He writes for GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country Magazine as well as monthly fiction reviews for the Observer. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.