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The Flitting

UK Publisher: Granta
US Publisher: Tin House

In March 2020, Ben Masters’ father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was never happier than when outdoors, and spent his free time chasing butterflies. Despite his attempts to share this passion with his son, Ben was resistant. But as his father spent his final months confined to the house, unable for the first summer of his life to follow the butterfly cycle, Ben became his connection to the outside world.

Blending memoir with nature writing, literary biography and pop-cultural history, this is an absorbing account of loss and grief and how moments of trauma can trigger poignant transformations.


“Reading The Flitting is like following a meandering butterfly through the woods. There is purpose and power in the detours, beauty in the quiet moments, and satisfaction in articulating the invisible thread we grasp to honor love, loss, and legacy. Like H is for Hawk, Masters weaves together the words of multiple generations of naturalists, helping readers find strength in those who came before so we can be strong for those who will follow. A lyrical tribute to the power of connection.” — Sara Dykman, author of Bicycling with Butterflies


The Flitting is a dance and a dazzle of a book; at once a moving father-son memoir and the flicker-flitter story of a butterfly chase, in all its actual and metaphorical vibrancy. It tells of a life lost and a worldview discovered, in a voice that beautifully balances lightness and cleverness.” — Robert Macfarlane

Ben Masters is the author of a novel, Noughties (Hamish Hamilton, 2012), and a book of literary criticism, Novel Style...