An imaginative description of an otter’s reaction to the firstborn of her first litter.  Williamson spent years studying otters before and while attempting to recreate their lives and feelings in writing.  A masterpiece of human empathy for another species, and of beautiful, spare, eloquent prose.

See the later account of the moment when Tarka’s mother, considering him ready to fend for himself after her assiduous training, moves on.

‘This was her first litter, and she was overjoyed when Tarka’s lids ungummed, and his eyes peeped upon her, blue and wondering … Before the coming of her cubs, her world had been a wilderness, but now her world was in the eyes of her firstborn.’


Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth: Puffin Books, 1976 (1927)), p. 23

Image credit: Hans at


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