Longlisted for the

Wainwright Prize

for Nature Writing 2019

“How to Catch a Mole" by Marc Hamer is a small book of many things. In quiet, crystalline prose, it blends memoir, keen observations of nature, and ruminations about life, aging and death. ...  

Wall Street Journal 

22 Nov 2019

About 'Mole'

"At once a highly original memoir and an ode to nature, this unexpected, delightfully strange debut reveals, at its core, a rare vision of the natural world: as an essential and precious source of joy and sorrow."


"Marc Hamer, a gardener, poet and now retired mole-catcher, takes readers on a wonderfully meandering and enchanting journey through his final days as a hunter of moles. Along the way, he remembers the events of his life that led him here: teenage  homelessness, working on the railway, and weeding windswept gardens in Wales. Hamer's daily work of taming and destroying nature at his clients' behest - including the molehill and its mysterious inhabitant - reinforce for him the beauty and value of disappearing wild spaces, an awareness that causes him to relinquish his traps and pass on his quiet wisdom in this luminous debut".


How to Catch a Mole is Published in the UK by Harvill Secker

In North America and the USA by Greystone books In October 2019

Also in Germany, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Russia, Romania, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Poland, South Korea.

Beautifully illustrated by Joe Mcclaren


“How to Catch a Mole" by Marc Hamer is a small book of many things. In quiet, crystalline prose, it blends memoir, keen observations of nature, and ruminations about life, aging and death. ...  

Wall Street Journal 

22 Nov 2019



... he offers some heart rending images

which linger in the mind long after you have closed the book.

Sebastian Shakespeare

Daily Mail


Hamer zeros in on nature's oft ignored details,

creating a counterpoint to today's onslaught of digital information

... acts as a detox for an overstimulated mind.

Greystone books



One of the most wonderful accounts of life on this earth I have read.

A healing book of wisdom, oneness and hard work.

A great antidote to cynicism, irony, self-importance and fakery.

This is the good stuff.

You finish this book and you see better.

You know better where you stand in the unfinished ongoing circle of things.

Max Porter

Award winning Author of

'Grief is a thing with feathers' and



This is an extraordinary book:

part natural history, part memoir, part poetry - all entirely gorgeous.

I've read no other book like this. Its beauty and heartbreak will stay with me for a long time.

PS: the author stops killing moles, thanks goodness.

Sy Montgomery

Best selling Author of:

'How to Be a Good Creature' and

'The Soul of an Octopus'




A remarkable mixture of philosophy, autobiography, travel and handbook.


Craig Brown

Mail on Sunday


"Earnest, understated, and sublime,

How to Catch a Mole is the mark of a fierce new literary talent. 


A deft combination of memoir and nature writing,

Hamer’s unconventional life story runs parallel to his farewell ode to the mole - 

that colorblind and clawed beast, whose form rarely sees the light of day, until now."



Sublimely touching (and with the softest of hands),

this book has all of the warmth and cold whose balance makes good nature writing. Hamer's observations demonstrate both a refusal to look away and a tender love for the environment around him. His memoir of a life spent catching moles waxes and wanes amongst the gruesome, the sensual, the violent, and the awe-struck.


For fans of the way that Mary Oliver lived and talked about her life."

Afton Montgomery, Tattered Cover Book Store





Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance meets H is for Hawk.

A book to read in the passing of the seasons, full of the existential awareness that comes from working outdoors, in concert with the wildest things."

Michaela Riding, King's English Bookshop



"As both a bookseller and reader, what I have come to value most in a book is surprise: the unexpected bard, language that defies category, or the utterly original story. How to Catch a Mole caught me off guard, surprised me in every way. I could not have imagined it: the vegetarian hunter-recluse, through simple, yet sublime, prose and poetry, delivering a memoir that felt private and, too, universal. Marc Hamer writes of his life and his work with creatures in the hidden tunnels and frosty fields of Wales with

the spirituality of Wendell Berry, and the heart of Helen MacDonald."

Keltie Peay, Parnassus Books


Quantum physics recognizes that electrons behave differently when under observation—to be, or not to be a wave or a particle, depending on whether it’s being observed. And nature writing presents a similar situation because nature writers, as observers, must abide the fact that they themselves are an element of nature. To be human in nature is to become nature. The point is: nature writing is always part memoir.


Welshman Marc Hamer embraces his inner autobiographer in this visionary writing project that showcases the extraordinary roles he played over a lifetime spent primarily in the rural outdoors. He’s been an observer, student, inhabitant, celebrant, professional gardener, and reluctant mercenary: “I had to work to depersonalise the moles, because if, as I believe, all living things have equal value and we are all the same, then I was killing myself.”


He also provides a lovely anthem to that garden ravager, the common mole, a far more interesting, intrepid creature than is commonly known. He writes movingly of marital love, solitude, and weather. Of aging, he says, “In decay I see the beginning of growth, because that is how I choose to see the world, because it makes the world elegant and poetic; because I have no religion; because I am a gardener and I see it every day.”


Discovering Hamer’s nature writing par excellence is a godsend.



Reviewed by Matt Sutherland 

September / October 2019


Marc is represented by Robert Caskie at Robert Caskie Ltd.

email: robert@RobertCaskie.com


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