© Merrily Harpur 2003
Mark Birley putting in a contact lens...
....from Hedgerow Gleanings
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 Listener. View 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
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
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, www.dorsetbigcats.org
Her principal hobbies are staring dreamily out of the window and fly-fishing.
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