6th July saw the official launch of the J.A. Baker archive, housed at the Albert Sloman Library at the University of Essex.
To celebrate the launch, MA Wild Writing course director Dr James Canton and the Albert Sloman Library hosted a day of talks and discussions on The Peregrine and Baker’s legacy. Speakers included ornithologist and conservationist John Fanshawe, who talked about his role in amassing the material for the archive, and archive cataloguer Hetty Saunders, who provided insight into Baker’s life. Writer and social historian Ken Worpole spoke on the identity of Essex landscapes while author and naturalist Mark Cocker sparked a lively debate following his talk on the ornithological veracity of The Peregrine.
From the University of Essex, Professor (and Essex birder) Sean Nixon spoke on cultures of nature from post-war Britain, while three current MA Wild Writing students – Miranda Cichy, Kirsty Groves and Stephen Rutt – presented their responses to The Peregrine, ranging from a critical comparison of pollution in the work of Ted Hughes and Baker, to a creative work devised from Baker’s early letters.
A highlight of the day was the arrival of the final guest: a tiercel peregrine from Kings Falconry and his handler, Phil Huzzey.
Those wishing to view the J. A. Baker archive should contact the Albert Sloman Library to arrange a visit.