H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk
Author Helen Macdonald
Genre Memoir
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date
Pages 300 pp.
Awards Samuel Johnson Prize, Costa Book of the Year
ISBN 0-224-09700-8
OCLC 898117636

H is for Hawk is a memoir by British author Helen Macdonald. It won the Samuel Johnson Prize and Costa Book of the Year award among other honours.


H is for Hawk tells Macdonald's story of the year she spent training a goshawk in the wake of her father's death. Her father, Alisdair Macdonald, was a respected photojournalist who died suddenly of a heart attack in 2007. Having been a falconer for many years, she purchased a young goshawk to help her through the grieving process.


The book reached the The Sunday Times best-seller list within two weeks of being published in July 2014.[1]

In an interview with The Guardian, Macdonald said, "While the backbone of the book is a memoir about that year when I lost my father and trained a hawk, there are also other things tangled up in that story which are not memoir. There is the shadow biography of TH White, and a lot of nature-writing, too. I was trying to let these different genres speak to each other."[2]

Judges of the Samuel Johnson Prize specifically highlighted that marriage of genres as one of the reasons for selecting H is for Hawk as the winner.[2]

Awards and honours


  1. Cambridge News, INTERVIEW: Cambridge author Helen Macdonald on grief, goshawks, and her best-selling book, H is for Hawk, Cambridge News, 7 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 Stephen Moss, Helen Macdonald: a bird’s eye view of love and loss, The Guardian, 5 November 2014.
  3. Clark, Nick. "Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction: Helen Macdonald wins with 'H is for Hawk'". The Independent. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  4. "Helen Macdonald wins Costa Book of the Year 2014". BBC News. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  5. 1 2 "'H is for Hawk' shortlisted for the 2014 Duff Cooper Prize, longlisted for the 2014 Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015". The Marsh Agency. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  6. "2016 Carnegie Medals Shortlist Announced". American Libraries Magazine. October 19, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
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