Red Berries

'As long as the year was green, the couple was as happy as two birds in one nest. Yet as the summer turned to autumn, the wife found she was expecting a child.'

Why Birches Have Silver Bark

'Birch trees did not always have silver bark. There was a time when their trunks were the grey-brown of most other trees. It was sex that changed things. It always does.'

The Quaking of the Aspen

'Desperate to get away from his now too voluble spouse, he hurried out to the moor with the aspen leaves crushed in his fist. To his surprise, the same green-gowned lady came riding by.'

Why the Ash Has Black Buds

'The trees have always had some idea of what happens to them when they die. In forests they saw their neighbours toppled by wind or age and rot into earth, and their roots sent up descriptions of peat and coal in vast beds and seams.'

Katherine Would Approve

'It was my first full-time job in a long while. The chairman of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society and the four paid staff were there, all in winter coats.'

Virginia Woolf in the Bomb-scarred City

'This was her grandest bid to bring something back from the ruins. She was not reading despite the bombs; she was reading with them, and the two – reading and bombs – are jumbled together in one of her last letters.'

W.G. Sebald

'As a Suffolk man I have a special affection for The Rings of Saturn, although the Suffolk coast Sebald evokes is nothing like the Suffolk I know.'

A Translator’s View

'Revising those essays in translation I was on my own, and I kept weighing up every sentence, wondering what Max would have thought of this or that phrasing.'

Teaching by Example

'When I met Professor Sebald for our first tutorial, I was immediately struck by how different he was from the mostly aloof, self-important professors that I was used to at Munich University.'