The Ravenmaster

Christopher Skaife

Legend has it that if the Tower of London’s ravens should perish or be lost, the Crown and kingdom will fall. The Ravenmaster’s role is serious indeed, and after decades of serving the Queen, Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife took on the added responsibility of caring for these infamous birds. In The Ravenmaster, he invites us over the tower’s drawbridge to watch as he feeds his raven’s ox-hearts and dog-biscuits soaked in blood, protects them from foxes, and ensures that these unusual, misunderstood, and utterly brilliant corvids are healthy, happy and ready to captivate the three million tourists who flock to the Tower every year.

A rewarding, intimate, and inspiring partnership has developed between the ravens and their charismatic and charming protector, the Ravenmaster. Weaving together insights from folklore, history, and contemporary behavioural science, Skaife shines light on these mysterious creatures and entertains his reader with anecdotes from his own experience with his beloved bird family. The Ravenmaster is a book for anyone with an interest in history, nature, memoir, and the macabre.

Reviews of The Ravenmaster

  • ‘He is a born storyteller’ Evening Standard

    ‘A born storyteller with a gift for banter honed by years in the British army, Skaife has written a book that is far from a dry monograph about the species … [it is] a beguiling, fascinating, and highly amusing account of the strangely magical birds. He is making us love them in a way that makes them more than mere symbols’ Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk, Atlantic

    ‘A natural story teller, Skaife writes with affection and insight about these powerful, unpredictable and highly intelligent birds … a wonderfully personal account’ Guardian

    ‘The best Christmas presents are often a little unexpected and this lovely memoir of Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife’s experience of looking after the Tower of London ravens fits the bill. A beguiling mixture of personal experience, folklore and humour, The Ravenmaster is a charming delightiNews

    ‘A strange, wise and fascinating book that takes you deep into the interwoven myth and history of the raven. At a time when we’re thinking more than ever about tradition and identity, this is a book that feels both urgent and timeless, with the Ravenmaster himself an eccentric, genial and quintessentially British narrator’ Alex Preston, author of When Kingfishers Catch Fire

    ‘The London book of the year this year has to be The Ravenmaster, a funny and informative account of life with the royal ravens’ Evening Standard

    ‘Balancing fascinating tidbits with macabre details (blood-soaked dog biscuits and ghostly sightings), [Skaife] titillates as he educates, rehabilitating the gloomy reputation of the raven. Skaife’s conversational style and disarming candor make this a rollicking tale fit for nearly any armchair adventurer’ Publisher’s Weekly