A Kestrel for a Knave

Barry Hines

Illustrated by David Howe

Introduced by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

This cornerstone of British literature famously explores man’s relationship with nature, via a young boy’s unexpected passion for falconry. A specially printed translucent dust jacket accompanies this splendid gift edition.

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Billy Casper’s bleak future seems inevitable. Dismissed as hopeless at school and neglected by the remnants of his family, in weeks he will be joining his brutish brother down the mines. However, his affinity for the natural world offers a sliver of hope; he raises a wild kestrel, which he names Kes, and her quiet strength and independence strikes a chord with the troubled teenager. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Ken Loach, A Kestrel for a Knave remains a cornerstone of British fiction. ‘A slim book about a no-hoper and a hawk’ was Hines’s own description of the novel, yet its slightness belies its great emotional power – when Billy flees his demeaning existence at school and ventures into the wild, he comes alive.

‘A masterpiece … Billy Casper is as memorable a young character as any post-war writer has created’

  1. Glasgow Herald 

Production details

Bound in printed cloth with printed translucent dust jacket

Set in Swift with Hebden display

232 pages

Four-colour title-page spread and 10 integrated black & white illustrations

Printed endpapers

8˝ x 5¼˝

Please note: this edition has a translucent dust jacket in place of a slipcase

The first illustrated edition

The binding depicts the Yorkshire countryside, with a translucent dust jacket superimposing the lonely figures of Billy and Kes over the landscape. This is the first illustrated edition, and artist David Howe has provided a series of integrated black-and-white images that convey both the stirring power of nature and the stark realism of the Yorkshire mining community. He has also created a stunning full-colour image of Kes for the title page.

In his introduction, acclaimed children’s author Frank Cottrell-Boyce examines the significance of A Kestrel for a Knave as a life-changing book for young people, and looks more closely at the impact of Hines’s writing – specifically the author’s fury against an inept education system and his sympathy for those caught in it. Amongst the heartbreaking social realism there is a message of hope, and Cottrell-Boyce reminds the reader that ‘what Kes awakens, and sets flying, is Billy Casper’s soul’.

About Barry Hines

Barry Hines (1939–2016) was born in the village of Hoyland Common in South Yorkshire. He studied Physical Education at Loughborough College of Education and taught for two years in London before returning to the North. His first novel, The Blinder, was published in 1966. This was followed in 1968 by A Kestrel for a Knave, the screen adaptation of which Hines co-wrote with director Ken Loach. His other novels include The Gamekeeper (1975) and The Heart of It (1994). Following the film Kes (1969), Hines wrote screenplays for television dramas such as The Price of Coal (1977) and the BAFTA-winning Threads (1984). Hines was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1977.

About Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is a children’s novelist and screenwriter. He collaborated with the director Michael Winterbottom on films such as 24 Hour Party People (2002) and A Cock and Bull Story (2005). His 2004 novel Millions (which was made into a film of the same name by director Danny Boyle) was awarded the Carnegie Medal, and The Unforgotten Coat (2011) received the 2012 Guardian Prize. In a further collaboration with Danny Boyle, he wrote the opening ceremony to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

About David Howe

David Howe graduated in Illustration with Animation from the Manchester School of Art in 2016. In the same year he was granted awards from the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts and AON Community Arts for his drawings for the Bradford Pit Project, an exhibition and archive of the Bradford Colliery in Manchester. Drawing is the primary medium in David Howe’s work, and he almost always uses charcoal and Conté crayon. In his own words: ‘With each drawing I try and balance the elements of light and shadow, a broad range of marks, cinematic viewpoints and perspective to create an atmosphere in a piece.’


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