HarperCollins Ireland scoops memoir by warden of Skellig Michael

HarperCollins Ireland scoops memoir by warden of Skellig Michael

HarperCollins Ireland has scooped a "unique" memoir by the warden of Skellig Michael, a remote Irish island.

Commissioning editor Catherine Gough bought world all-language rights to Robert L Harris' Returning Light from the author. The book will be published on 28th October 2021.

The synopsis says: "In 1987 Robert L Harris happened upon an unusual job advert in the Kerryman: a new warden service was being set up on Skellig Michael, and the deadline was imminent. Just weeks later he was on his way to set up camp in one of Ireland’s most remote locations, unaware that he would be making that same journey every May for the next 30 years.

"Here he transports us to the otherworldly island, a place that is teeming with natural life, including curious puffins that like to visit his hut. From the precipice he has observed a coastline that is relatively unchanged for the last thousand years, a beacon of equilibrium in an everchanging world.

"But the island can be fierce too. Inhabitable only for five months of the year, solitude can quickly become isolation as bad weather rolls in to create a veil between Skellig Michael and the rest of the world, when the dizzying terrain can become a very real threat to life. Returning Light is an extraordinary memoir about the profound effect a place can have on us, and how a remote location can bring with it a great sense of belonging."

Harris said: "For the past 30 years I’ve worked on an island that has had a profound effect on my life, and I’m happy to be able to share that with others in Returning Light. I have had many extraordinary experiences during my time on the island—being able to observe the rhythms of the natural life and spend time alone in the ancient monastery has been a rare gift. I hope my book goes some way in showing people what an incredible place Skellig Michael is, and that they get to experience in even a small way what it’s like to spend an extended period of time living in such a captivating place."

Gough added: "Robert’s gift for observation, combined with his lyrical descriptions, are what drew me to his story. I was transported from my desk to the wilds of Skellig Michael in a single paragraph, and I didn’t want to leave. I’m excited to be publishing this unique memoir of a life dedicated to working in such a phenomenal and otherworldly environment, and I can’t wait for readers to feel transported, too."