Literary Chickens | A Humble Book Review
It was such a sweet surprise to receive a message in my inbox a few months ago from Abbeville Press, wondering if I would review an upcoming book of theirs about chickens. It came as no surprise as soon as I knew that chickens were to be the theme. They seem to the very theme of my everyday life! Even just today as I was finalizing the touches on this post did I spend most of fetching things for my birds: feed, oyster shells, cleaning their water, making sure the roosters were minding their manners, and that the hens would keep out of the garden.
I willingly volunteered to share the book Literary Chickens by Beth Moon with my readers. Inside is filled with Beth Moon’s magnificent photography of several different breeds of chicken paired with pieces of classic literature, varying from Lord Byron to Beowulf to Pride and Prejudice. The quotations are meant to represent the look of the chicken, their stature or plumes, their combs and wattles. It is a truly unique pairing that I could have never put together myself but I can now not stop seeing my flock in a new light with their own individual personalities.
My good friend, Melissa Caughey of Tilly’s Nest, wrote a piece in this book highlighting chickens in their natural state, where their heritage began and how it has changed over time. It is called Chickens As They Are and is a wonderful insight into the start of what was called “Chicken Frenzy” back in the Victorian days. I had no idea that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert owned chickens themselves, and several guineas. Melissa writes that Queen Victoria’s chickens were three times the size of a standard chicken and laid giant eggs. My curiosity of course was piqued so I had to try and find out which breed of chicken she owned. I assumed that it was a Brahma but learned that she had been gifted Cochins, which can be extremely large, about 10-12 pounds. Large for a chicken, that is. Even our Brahma (originally named Big Brahma Mama) is getting onto the 10 pound side already!
The book is also followed by an afterword by Jane Goodall. Boy, do I love that woman! As I read her piece for the first time, I found myself welling up with tears twice! In the piece she writes about visiting her grandmother’s farm where they had chickens. As a farm kid, her chore was the collect the eggs each day after the hens had laid them. She began becoming curious about where the egg came out of the hen, how it was laid when there was no apparent hole large enough. Anyway, she sites this moment as her first budding of becoming a scientist, taking the time to figure it out herself. You’ll just have to read it! My heart was filled, and I could not help but think of my own little scientist here at our farm, always asking which type of flowers we picked or becoming truly curious about insects and knowing which kinds they are by the correct names.
I would recommend this book to anyone who simply loves their chickens! Beautiful to look at and filled with wonderful classic literature quotes to make your mind feel intrigued. This book is by Beth Moon and published by Abbeville Press. It arrives on shelves of your favorite book shop on October 30th. However, you can get your hands on a copy even earlier by entering a giveaway happening over on our Instagram account!
Head over to @underatinroof on Instagram and follow the instructions. We will choose a winner no later than Wednesday evening. If you think this book sounds perfect for you or as a gift for your favorite chicken keeper, do not miss out!