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1001 Stories Collection

Tarka the Otter

1001 Tarka The Otter
Added on 09th August 2020

Author Henry Williamson
First published 1927
Publisher G P Putnam's Sons

A classic animal story chronicling the life of Tarka, an otter in a Devonshire river.


Life takes a lot of twists and turns for Tarka in the Devonshire countryside. Divided into two parts: ‘The First Year’ and ‘The Last Year’, the book tells the story of Tarka, the otter. The first part shows him as a cub who learns to swim and hunt and later loses his family and his first mate. The second part follows his story as a father of a litter of cubs up to his last hunt where he is pitted against his archenemy, Deadlock the pied hound.

Why we chose it

Tarka the Otter is a classic animal story that has never been out of print.

Where it came from

Henry Williamson moved to Georgeham, Devon, in 1921 and not long after that, a man asked for his help to rescue an orphaned otter cub and he obliged. Williamson, himself, claimed that this incident inspired him to write this story but the 1909 book The Life Story of an Otter by Cornish naturalist, John Coulson Tregarthen is also a possible influence. The original editions have been illustrated by Charles Tunnicliffe. Williamson rewrote his story seventeen times before he was happy that he had successfully captured the story of an otter.

Where it went next

Tarka the Otter has become a highly influential novel. It won the Hawthorne Prize in 1928. It is Henry Williamson’s most popular book. Due to its immense popularity, there is a Tarka County Tourism Authority in North Devon and a Tarka Trail in Devon, England. The book was adapted into a film, Tarka the Otter in 1979 which was voted 98th in 100 Greatest Family Films. The book was narrated by David Attenborough in an audiobook version in 1978.

Associated stories

Salar the Salmon was written by Henry Williamson as a companion volume to the illustrated Tarka the Otter.

Added on 09th August 2020

Author Henry Williamson
First published 1927
Publisher G P Putnam's Sons