Tiffany Francis-Baker- Nature Writer & Illustrator
Updated: Mar 24
Tiffany Francis-Baker is a nature writer and illustrator from the South Downs in Hampshire. She is the author of six books, including Dark Skies (Bloomsbury, 2019), a nature memoir about exploring the landscape at night. In 2019, she was also a writer-in-residence for Forestry England.
How did you get into becoming an author / nature writing?
I’ve always wanted to be a professional writer, but I didn’t discover nature writing until I was studying for my Masters degree in English. Nature and the environment have always been hugely important to me, so when I found nature writing it all fell into place! I started networking with other writers and nature people, and through those connections I was offered a publishing contract for my first book.
What does a career in nature writing entail?
The majority of nature writers I know choose to write alongside another main job, such as lecturing, journalism, editing, etc. For the last few years, I’ve mainly written freelance for magazines, but I'm trying to move away from this now for a number of reasons. Day to day, my career varies a lot depending on what I’m working on, but it’s usually a mixture of the odd freelance piece, writing books, creating items to sell in my online shop, marketing my work, general admin and trying to find new projects and opportunities. I also talk at nature and literary festivals, and do other bits and bobs to publicise my books.
Please highlight a conservation issue you are particularly interested in:
I’m really interested in organic farming and how it can positively impact not just our wildlife and landscapes, but human health, too. I read Silent Spring for the first time a few years ago and I think it’s a book everyone should read. There are lots of myths around organic farming not being efficient or high-yielding, but if you read John Lewis-Stempel’s books, embracing organic farming is a very compelling idea for a sustainable future.
What can people do to help with this issue?
Organic food is more expensive and it’s not fair to expect everyone to switch to organic overnight, or at all. Depending on your circumstances, eating seasonal food and trying to switch just one or two items to organic can make a really big difference. Growing your own food is also a great option if you have the spare time or resources! It’s also worth contacting your local MP to open a conversation about what is being done to encourage organic farming.
How do nature books (fiction & non-fiction) help wildlife conservation?
Science and ecology are at the heart of the modern conservation movement, but unless normal people can understand and appreciate what’s happening in the natural world, it’s very difficult to inspire big change. This is where books come in - and any other form of art. If you can tell a story about nature, you can capture people’s emotions and encourage them to care about other species. Books also help us relate to the world around us, so we are more likely to recognise that we are part of nature, not separate to it.
What is your greatest achievement?
I should probably say something professional like a book or a speaking event, but I’m going to be sentimental and say my daughter Olive! She’s the best thing I’ve ever made.
What is your favourite species?
I’ve had the same favourite animal my whole life - the polar bear! I think they’re magnificent.
What advice do you have for people wanting to pursue a career in nature writing?
The most important thing is to believe in your ability to write and not feel burdened by imposter syndrome. The writing community can be intimidating but it shouldn’t be - there’s room for everyone to write and the world is much richer with more voices. Don’t be afraid to share your work, too - you never know who might read it and give you an amazing opportunity.