Oscar-nominated actor Tilda Swinton has recorded the audiobook of Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain, published by Canongate. First releasing as an Audible exclusive download on 23 May, it will be followed by a physical edition of the audiobook, alongside a new hardback on 1 August. This first ever recording of Shepherd’s masterpiece will also feature an afterword by Robert Macfarlane and an essay on Shepherd by Jeanette Winterson, read by their respective authors.
Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay in a drawer for more than thirty years before it was finally published in 1977. Since being reissued by Canongate in its Canons series in 2008, it has sold more than 90,000 copies and has been licensed into a dozen languages and widely hailed as a modern classic.
Nan Shepherd became the first female author to feature on a British bank note, when she replaced Lord Ilay on the Royal Bank of Scotland £5 note in 2016. Born in 1893 in Deeside, she was an enthusiastic hill-walker, she spent a lifetime in search of the ‘essential’ nature of her beloved Cairngorms.
Swinton says: “Nan Shepherd speaks and understands Mountain and interprets for us all: here is her masterpiece, a great love story of undying enchantment and companionship. The Living Mountain delivers, without fail, that mighty uplift of heart afforded by the scale and detail of a wondering and wise perspective, whether found in nature itself or in human endeavour. An everlasting mountain in your hand.”
‘Reading this text aloud in one sitting was like riding the best possible hunter over the brightest possible hill: exhilarating barely covers it. Musical, muscular and surefootedly deft, it carried me high and rocking from start to finish: I just tried to stay on and out of its way. What a thoroughgoing thrill and privilege.’
Byng says: “Watching the audience for Nan Shepherd’s magnificent hymn to the Cairngorms grow exponentially this past decade has been every bit as exhilarating as the book is to read. To now have Tilda’s magnificent recording of The Living Mountain as another way of experiencing this beautiful, timeless book is beyond our wildest dreams. I just wish Nan was still around to listen to this perfect match ot text and voice.