Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the poet Ruth Padel. She is a highly acclaimed writer who is fascinated with the natural world around her. She's said of her poetry: "wildness, and wild animals lie at the heart of what I feel about writing". And perhaps that's no surprise - she is the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin.
As a child, her hero was Bagheera - the black panther from The Jungle Book. For a time, she confesses, she used to want to be a black panther. Later, she simply wanted to marry one. As an adult she has spent several years travelling across India, Sumatra and parts of Russia tracking tigers and trying to understand their lives. She notes ruefully that while her illustrious ancestor was involved in understanding how different species came into being, her own work was more a matter of documenting their decline.
Her interests have been with her since childhood. Back then, she says, "looking at nature properly, knowing the names of the plants, seeing how the petals worked, observing animal behaviour was just there. That was what you did. That was what being a person was."
[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]
Favourite track: E Voi Ridete? - And you're laughing? by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Book: The Iliad by Homer
Luxury: A lot of paper and pencils. Show less