Macfarlane, Robert

Robert Macfarlane

Elected: 2011

Year of birth: 1976

The news that I ‘d been elected a Fellow of the RSL came out of a clear blue sky one day in 2012. No rumours, no murmurs, no knowledge I was even being considered. Just – wham! – the thrill of the fact of it, and not long afterwards I signed myself in with TS Eliot’s pen (thank you Old Possum) and a wide smile.

Landmarks, my most recent book, arose out of a desire to celebrate and defend the rich language for landscape that we possess across the island-group presently and uneasily known as the United Kingdom and Ireland. Zawn, wurr, feadan, ffridd, skradge, sun-scald…I spent eight years gathering thousands of place-terms from dozens of languages and dialects, hoping to release them back into imaginative circulation. The book and its many words have led an unexpected and exciting life since then.

Presently I’m reading Don Watson’s The Bush, and James Ellroy’s Perfidia, which make an ultra-high-contrast pair (Watson’s elegant exegesis, Ellroy’s police-radio rat-a-tat crime-rap).

Photo of Robert Macfarlane is taken on the summit  of Piz Sarsura, in the Albua Alps, Switzerland.

More of our Fellows

Anne Olivier Bell

Alberto Manguel

Frances Stonor Saunders

Liz Calder

Fellowship Election Process​

Fellows are nominated by peers and elected by our Council of writers – our governing Board. Being elected a Fellow of the RSL is a lifetime honour. This role gives them the opportunity to support other writers, readers and the future of literature. The RSL connects writers in the Fellowship to one another, and to a wider readership.