Merrily Harpur 2003                                                        

Mark Birley putting in a contact lens...

....from Hedgerow Gleanings
by Candida Lycett Green
published by John Michell and Richard Adams


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Merrily Harpur lives in Dorset. She was educated at Headington School, Oxford, and Trinity College, Dublin. She is a painter, freelance cartoonist and writer and has contributed regular cartoons and feature articles to The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The London Evening Standard, Fortean Times, The Daily Mail, Private Eye, The Spectator, Country Living, The Field, Country Life and other British national publications; in Ireland The Irish Times, The Independent and the Irish Tatler. She wrote a weekly diary column in The Times, and ran weekly page-length cartoon strips in Punch magazine and The ListenerView a selection of cartoons and illustrations

Merrily enjoys illustrating other people's books too, and has adorned works by Kingsley Amis, Jill Tweedie, Miles Kington, Michael Frayn, John Michell, Candida Lycett Green, Gerald Durrell and James Fenton. If you are a publisher and would 'd like her to illustrate a book, please get in touch on 01300 320064.

She has exhibited and sold her paintings in England and Ireland. View a selection of paintings here.

She has published five books, The Nightmares of Dream Topping (Robson Books 1985), Unheard of Ambridge (Penguin 1987) and Pig Overboard (Robson Books 1990) and  Mystery Big Cats (Heart of Albion 2006) a comprehensive examination of the many thousands of sightings of strange panther-like and puma-like animals throughout Britain in the past four decades.
Roaring Dorset! Encounters with big cats, a gazetteer of big cat sightings in the county, was published in September 2008. She is currently working on two new books, one non-fiction and the other a novel for young teenagers.

Since 1988 she has lived for long periods in the counties of Cork and, latterly, Roscommon, Ireland, where she co-founded the now famous Strokestown International Poetry Competition and Festival in 1998 and of which she was Director until 2004, and is again in 2009/10

Her own poetry has been published in Poetry Ireland Review and she has been short-listed in both the Irish National Poetry Competition, and in the Poetry Society's (UK) Competition. In 2004 she won the Irish K250 International Poetry Prize.

A keen aficionado of Irish traditional music, she has written widely on the subject and has had the privilege of writing sleeve/liner notes for several albums by the great flute-player Matt Molloy, most recently The Path to the Well by Matt Molloy and John Carty.

Another long-term interest is fox hunting - or rather its philosophical, anthropological, metaphysical, mystical and poetic aspects - and she has written in depth on the subject, principally in The Field, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Listener. She currently commutes between Ireland and Dorset - the latter a hotspot of mysterious big cat activity - whence she runs an investigative website, 

Her principal hobbies are staring dreamily out of the window and fly-fishing. 

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