There’s actually very little information about Colin Dann on the web. I know, I checked! What I could determine is that he was born in 1943 making him 70 years old on the date of this post. He’s was born in Richmond, Surrey, and now lives in London. Colin Dann wrote a very lovely series of books beginning with the Animals of Farthing Wood, for which he was the Winner of the first NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for Children’s Literature. My edition, which I still have and treasure, is a first edition paperback printed in 1980. I have no idea how it came to be in my possession as I could not have read it until the mid to late 80’s but the price on the back tickles me, it was £2.50.
The Editors note inside reads:
Colin Dann bred butterflies as a boy and kept all manner of strange pets, such as toads, slow-worms, terrapins and giant snails, as well as the more conventional animals like hamsters, tortoises and mice. He still has a strong interest in natural history, in particular entomology. He now prefers to study nature in the wild, and his concern for our vanishing countryside and its effect on wild animals led to the writing of the Animals of Farthing Wood.
Through reading Colin Dann’s novels I began my journey towards becoming an environmentally conscious person. In the opening chapters the forest is destroyed and the animals made homeless. As an animal lover the idea of animals suffering and habitats being destroyed by greedy corporations was shocking especially at the age of eight or nine when I still believed in unicorns, fairies and all things honour bound. In fact, I still struggle to understand how they are even given permission by authorities to do it. We have lost so much of our natural environment, have damaged our local, regional and global ecosystems to the bring of toxic overload and extinction, and that makes me incredibly sad.
Most of what has been lost may never be regained but we can still do much to fix the situation. The few sparse nature reserves, the SSSI’s, LNR’s, & NNR’s, are but a start. Yes we have succeeded in preserving a few important habitats, what we must do now is create more, nurture new areas and allow nature to re establish itself, creating more woodlands, wetlands and hedgerows. These are among Britain’s richest habitats.
You can support the work of environmental activists by becoming a member of nature based facebook pages, and joining in with campaigns, signing petitions and most importantly researching and understanding the little things you can do at home. Shop ethically, recycle, look at your own carbon footprint. There is so much information on the internet and so many companies trying to do ethical business just waiting for consumers to choose them.
Anyway, this is a subject I’m most passionate about and I can easily lose myself in. I’ll paste a few webpages at the bottom of the article for those who want to find out more. For now, I shall return to Colin Dann and the Animals of Farthing Wood.
List of Works
The Animals of Farthing Wood The King of the Vagabond Series
In the Grip of Winter The Lions of Lingmere Series
Fox’x Feud Nobody’s Dog
The Fox Cub Bold The Ram of Sweetriver
The Siege of White Deer Park The Beach Dogs
In the Path of the Storm Just Nuffin
Battle for the Park A Great Escape
Farthing Wood – The Adventure Begins Legacy of Ghosts
The Animals of Farthing Wood follows the journey of the animals who make a pact to help each other survive after their home is destroyed. They work together (awkwardly at first) to find the promised land, White Deer Park. It is a nature reserve where animals are safe from humans, but the journey is long, hard and trying. They are led by a wise badger and a clever fox. The story is told from the point of view of the animals which is very appealing for children. Here’s a snippet from chapter three, where Toad finds out the humans have destroyed the pond:
Toad looked at Fox with an expression of disbelieving horror. ‘But…but…they couldn’t!’ he whispered. ‘I was born there. My parents were born there… and all my relatives, and acquaintances. And every spring we have a reunion. Toads all around leave their land homes and make for their birthplace. They couldn’t take that away from us?’ He looked pathetically from one sad face to another, almost compelling someone to deny this awful piece of information, but he received no answer.
‘Filled all of it in? Is it…quite gone?’
It is after this revelation that it becomes clear to the animals that if they are to survive they must find a new home.
Resources for making a difference
Find your local nature reserve and volunteer!