George Purse is an ex-steelworker employed as
a gamekeeper on a ducal country estate. He gathers, hand-rears and treasures
the birds to be shot at by his wealthy employers. He must ensure that the Duke
and his guests have good hunts when the shooting season comes round on the
Glorious Twelfth; he must ensure that the poachers who sneak onto the land in
search of food do not.
season, over the course of a year, George makes his rounds. He is not a
romantic hero. He is a labourer, who knows the natural world well and sees it without sentimentality.
acclaimed as a masterpiece of nature writing as well as a radical statement on work and class, The Gamekeeper
was also, like Hines’s A Kestrel for a Knave
adapted by Hines and filmed by Ken Loach, and it too stands as a haunting
classic of twentieth-century fiction.