The Wren: a biography

The Wren: a biography
Stephen Moss
Publisher:  Square Peg, London
Page Count:  208
ISBN Number:  9781910931936

On St Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) the young men of the village would set out to hunt a Wren to parade round the houses in exchange for charity. The tradition of the Wren hunt stretches back as far as the Bronze Age, punctuating the darkest point of the year.

Settling down to read Stephen Moss' account of the Wren definitely seemed more pleasurable! The book echoes the form of its subject; small, with the full page colour illustrations introducing each chapter akin to its loud bursts of song. Arranged loosely around a monthly calendar, the book takes us on a tour from the Wren's origins (probably in Central America) to its daily life as our commonest bird, interweaving history and culture along the way. The Wren, sometimes called the king of birds, is fascinating beyond its size, and Moss' delightful account will certainly add to your appreciation of this feathered character (which, as he points out early on, is not Britain's smallest bird, contrary to the belief of some pub quiz-masters...).

Rob Robinson