Helen MacDonald is the author of H is for Hawk, winner of the 2014 Costa book award and the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction. She describes herself as a writer, naturalist, historian and falconer, in that order. She is also an affiliated research scholar at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, and teaches to graduate level.
MacDonald’s interest in birds of prey began as a child and after completing her undergraduate degree, she spent three years in Abu Dhabi at a falcon-breeding centre.
Her first book, a collection of lyric poetry called Shaler’s Fish, was published in 2001, followed by a cultural and natural history of falcons in 2006.
She has written, performed and appeared in several nature documentaries for television and radio including BBC4’s four-part documentary series in 2010, Birds Britannia. MacDonald wrote and performed the five-part series The Mews for Radio 3′s The Essay, was based on her experiences training her goshawk, Mabel, and compared with The Once and Future King author, T.H. White’s experience with his goshawk. The following year, MacDonald brought her experiences of goshawk-training together with J. A. Baker’s cult book The Peregrine for the Radio 4 Afternoon Play The Falcon and the Hawk.