For the Guardian, Darlington named her top ten literary otters, including:
Tarka the Otter by Henry WilliamsonRead about another entry on the list.
First published in 1927, Tarka must be the most famous otter ever caught in the pages of a story. The heart-ripping adventure in Williamson's fictional tale tells of a courageous hunted animal. Everything in the story prickles with the otter's-eye-view: Tarka watches the meandering river and listens to its language of sibilant sounds; he plays with the river's "paws of water" and tumbles between its "star-streaming claws". "From his couch of bitten and pressed-down hollow stems, Tarka watched the dragonflies which flew glittering over the water. On a reed beside him was fixed the brittle greyish mask of a nymph… it took the dragonish breath of noon and changed into gleams of scarlet; its eyes grew lustrous with summer fire." Tarka's peace is frequently shattered by the baying of hounds, and his heroism culminates in a dramatic 10-hour hunt where he battles with his terrifying nemesis Deadlock. Anyone who hasn't sprouted whiskers, webs and a tail by the end of this story needs to read it again.