“Marren is a master of concise, elegant writing, and this passionate, personal work is not only a fascinating cultural study of these creatures but also an example of superb nature writing. . . . Highly recommended for all nature enthusiasts.”
Library Journal, starred review

“This is not a field guide or a natural history but rather a celebration of butterflies with a note of sadness over the decline of these creatures. . . . An erudite, engaging book.”
Kirkus Reviews


Three Centuries of Butterfly Delight
Peter Marren
With a New Preface

Publication Date: 15 November 2016
320 pages | 18 line drawings | 6 x 9 | ISBN-13: 978-0-226-39588-3 | Cloth $30.00

Aflutter with praise when it was published in the United Kingdom last year, Peter Marren’s Rainbow Dust is in no need of further gilding. But as with its lavish, adored subjects, measurable need has very little to do with it. In this paean to Lepidoptera, Marren shows us that butterflies matter not least because of the power these winged beings hold over the human soul. By turns funny and melancholy, reverential and profane—but always wise—Rainbow Dust drifts from painted ladies to fritillaries, from the golden hog to the red admiral and purple emperor, revealing as much about human nature as about nature itself. As our beloved monarchs and other butterfly species across the world face decline, Marren’s book urges us to heed our instinct toward awe and succumb to the stirring of wings.

Peter Marren is a wildlife writer, journalist, and authority on invertebrate folklore and names. He is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books, including The New Naturalists and Nature Conservation.

Please contact Nicholas Lilly at 773.702.7490 or nlilly@uchicago.edu for more information.


Praise from the UK for Rainbow Dust

A Guardian 2015 Best Book, Best Nature Book, and Readers’ Book of the Year!

“To and fro, the book flitty-floats, elegantly, intentionally, like a butterfly between
blooms. . . . He’s a genial, entertaining guide, is Peter Marren. . . . Butterflies have found
their champion. Is Rainbow Dust worth a flutter? Oh, absolutely.”
—John Lewis-Stempel, Times

Rainbow Dust is Marren’s love letter to the butterfly. . . . His passion is infectious.
Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, Rainbow Dust is a truly marvelous book.”
—Sophia Waugh, Telegraph

Rainbow Dust is the distilled essence from a lifetime’s reading, looking, and taking
pleasure in butterflies.”
—Mark Cocker, Guardian

“As charming and colorful as its winged subjects.”
Financial Times

“Superbly distilled. . . . Insightful. . . . Fascinating.”

“Whether you know a lot or a little about butterflies, this is an essential read.”

“[A] must read. . . . Marren’s celebration of butterflies explores their natural history; role
in art, literature, and science; the melancholy catalogue of lost species and the measures
being taken to conserve these most beautiful of creatures. Their very names are redolent
of an English summertime: Clouded Yellow, Chalkhill Blue, and the rare Purple
Daily Mail

“A subtly brilliant cultural and scientific history of lepidoptery, interspersed with
vignettes from Marren’s own life in the field.”
—Barbara Kiser, Nature

“Good nature writing like that in Rainbow Dust . . . will inspire us to get involved.”
New Scientist

“Marren’s book is stunning: as stunning as the first red admiral on a June morning.”
Resurgence and Ecologist


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