by R.M. Lockley.
Wartime letters to a close friend about the wildlife on a Welsh island.
This book is a little gem. R.M. Lockley, his wife and daughter settled on the island of Skokholm off the Pembrokshire coast before the Second World War. Here, they kept sheep, gathered driftwood for the fire, collected gulls' eggs for the kitchen, and caught and ringed thousands of birds. Letters from Skokholm comprises 50 letters-cum-essays to Lockley's friend and brother-in-law, the naturalist John Buxton. In them, Lockley documents his observations and reminiscences of the flora, fauna, geology and history of the island.
Sadly, when war came, the Lockleys were told that they would have to leave the island. This seems to have been the impetus for Lockley to write the letters. When, in 1940, Buxton was captured by the Germans in Norway and made a prisoner of war, Lockley continued to send him the letters in his prison camp.
I should also mention the illustrations accompanying this book. The seascape on the front cover by Kyffin Williams is frankly magnificent, and the essays themselves are illustrated with wonderful pictures by C.F. Tunnicliffe.