Kestrel memoir to Bloomsbury

Kestrel memoir to Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury has signed a memoir from Richard Hines, whose experiences training kestrels as a boy inspired his brother Barry's 1968 novel, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Hines grew up in Hoyland Common, a mining village in south Yorkshire, close to the ruins of Tankersley Hall where he discovered nesting kestrels. Using instructions from a medieval manual he found in the local library, Hines trained one of the kestrels, which inspired his older brother's book, later turned into the film "Kes" by director Ken Loach.

Michael Fishwick at Bloomsbury signed the memoir from Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh, beating an offer from Transworld. The book, No Way But Gentlenesse, takes its title from an instruction in an old falconry manual, which advises that a bird cannot be forced to do anything it does not want to.

Walsh said: "What I love about No Way But Gentlesesse is Richard’s simple and beautiful writing, his love of nature, and his ability to enter fully into the minds of his kestrels... For me this memoir sits somewhere in the Venn diagram between a falconry memoir and a Yorkshire autobiography, but it also carries the huge additional charge that Richard’s life was the basis for Kes. Millions of school children have read Kes as a set text, and have seen the film, yet no-one knows that there was a real person behind both."

Hines, now 69, lives in south Sheffield, and has spent his career as a documentary maker and lecturer at Sheffield Hallan University.

The book will be published in January 2016 in hardback.

Its acquisition follows the success of falconry memoir H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Jonathan Cape), which won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction last month.