Casting Shadows
Tom Fort, Read by Paul Hilliar

Book cover image

Narrated By: Paul Hilliar

Duration: 9 hours and 36 minutes

What to expect

A Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year

Peer into the secret, silent world of the freshwater fish and explore evolution of the art and industry of fishing in Britain's rivers and streams.

From cunning Neolithic traps, intricate Roman nets and quarrellous Victorian societies to the evolution of angling and eventual gentrification of river access, this history spans thousands of years and ends with a poignant call to protect the underwater world from the horrors of industrial fishing and farming.

Meanwhile, another thread of the narrative weaves in the lives of the fishes themselves: the incredible struggles of the Atlantic salmon and secretive eel; the pike, a lean and camouflaged predator; the carp, huge and stately, begetter of obsessions; the exquisite spotted brown trout and its silver cousin, the grayling.

Lives built on and around fishing have largely faded from Britain, but fishermen and conservationists are working tirelessly to prevent the same fate befalling the fishes.


The environment, Wildlife: general interest

Listen to a sample

A Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year

‘Tom Fort’s wonderful social history of angling is the ideal book for fish fanciers … A wonderful and unsnobbish social history of angling by a master fisherman’ Max Hastings, Sunday Times

‘His writings cover a wide range of subjects … he therefore brings to this book a more practised pen than most angling writers bring to theirs’ Literary Review

‘Casting Shadows is a beautifully written, unexpectedly humorous and fastidiously researched expression of gratitude for creatures and for a sport. Fort recreates vivid vignettes of moments in angling’s heritage with novelistic flourish’ Patrick Galbraith, The Times

‘Tom Fort’s Casting Shadows … offers garrulous witness to a fine passion … [Fort] is a sort of aquatic anthropologist, an angler with an infectious curiosity about all things fishy … The aroma of wonder seeps through his sentences. Buried beneath the anecdote and the arcana is the poignancy of the fisherman’s encounter with nature … A plea for attention to the radiant world’ London Review of Books

‘Tom Fort … leads us into all sorts of fishy places, with their delightful sights and smells, and introduces us to rough-hewn, fishy characters – and we love it … His writing must give any fisherman nostalgic thoughts. Equally, any non-fisherman will surely be enticed by the scenes he depicts, and amazed by the facts of history and natural history he reveals’ Oldie

‘Marvellous’ Jeremy Paxman, Saga Magazine

‘An essential antidote to a modern world’ Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine

‘The ideal book for lock-down … Thought-provoking … intelligent and well researched … You will not be disappointed’ Journal of the Piscatorial Society

Praise for Tom Fort
‘This is a captivating study…Tom Fort is incapable of writing a dull sentence'
Financial Times

‘A fascinating, beautifully written and deeply peculiar book’ New Scientist