Home Welcome to Matthew Oates’s Website


A short introduction to me and my work.

I am an English naturalist and nature writer, in love with the natural world, particularly with butterflies – especially the mighty Purple Emperor, the subject of a forthcoming book: His Imperial Majesty, a natural history of the Purple Emperor (Bloomsbury, due out on June 11th 2020.  £16.99, pre-publication offer £15.29).  For details & preview see separate pages…

Previous books include In Pursuit of Butterflies (2015) and Beyond Spring (2017). 

After working in nature conservation for some 40 years, primarily as a specialist advisor with the National Trust but distantly for the likes of the Nature Conservancy Council and Hampshire County Council, I retired in April 2018, having gained an extensive knowledge of places, landscapes and habitats in England, Wales & Northern Ireland (and a modest knowledge of Scotland).  One retires to rather than from…

In retirement, I primarily study and champion the Purple Emperor.  That’s how I can best make a difference.  My aim is to help give that wonderful butterfly the future it deserves.  It’s a good news species: it’s spreading nicely, and we are getting better at looking for it.  Do contact me if I can help with Purple issues – email address below (NB I struggle with emails during June and July).  See also the highly exuberant Purple Emperor Blog https://apaturairis.blogspot.com/.  Warning: anything goes on the PE Blog…

Also, I am a specialist volunteer for the National Trust, an active member of Butterfly Conservation, a volunteer at Knepp Castle Estate (pioneer rewilding project) in West Sussex, and am getting involved in Heart of England Forest in SW Warwickshire.  At Knepp, I help run Purple Emperor Safaris with my partner-in-entomological-crime, Neil Hulme.  See https://www.kneppsafaris.co.uk/safaris

At heart, I am a (somewhat Franciscan) pilgrim of forests and downs, wilder places, the poetic approach to nature, so-called ‘new nature writing’, our relationship(s) with wilder places, heartlands, and how places influence us and even speak through us (and I think they do).  That all sounds terribly serious but fear not, silliness keeps breaking through.  My major influences are Edward Thomas, WH Hudson, Richard Jefferies and my cats.

I have done a fair amount of TV & radio work, as a contributer (e.g. Countryfile, One Show, Springwatch, and especially R4), but hold no ambitions in that area (I’ll do anything for Purple Emperors though). 

I love writing – books, nature poetry, articles, monthly pieces for The Times Nature Notebook column and for my local parish magazine in the Cotswolds.   Above all, I write what I  want to read – and what no one else seems to be writing…  Do contact me if you think I might be able to write something for or with you (my writing season is called autumn & winter, I write my way through the darker months).  I am also available for talks and, arthritis permitting, walks, and to help forward-looking landowners.  

Email:  [email protected]  

I am quite active on Twitter, with a reasonable following (I don’t follow zillions of people, so don’t have zillions of followers) –

Twitter  @MatthewOates76