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The story of the Animals of Farthing Wood continues over several novels:

  • The Animals of Farthing Wood (1979)
  • In the Grip of Winter (1981)
  • Fox's Feud (1982)
  • The Fox Cub Bold (1983)
  • The Siege of White Deer Park (1985)
  • In the Path of the Storm (1989)
  • Battle for the Park (1992)

How much time passes (in-universe) during all of these stories? It should be relatively easy to figure out from noting the passing of the seasons in the books, but it's been many years since I read them and I don't have them to hand any more.

(I haven't included the prequel novel in the above list, as it may be harder to figure out where it fits in the timeline by its very nature as a prequel published later, but answerers can feel free to treat this as a bonus.)

1 Answer 1

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The story of The Animals of Farthing Wood begins one May, five years after the Assembly called when the human destruction of Farthing Wood began (which we see in the prequel story):

"After all, it is May now ..."

-- The Animals of Farthing Wood, Chapter 3: "Toad's Story"

"Five years ago, my father chaired the Assembly that was called when the humans first started to build here."

-- The Animals of Farthing Wood, Chapter 1: "Drought"

Their journey lasts several months (it's mentioned that "the beginning of July" arrives just before they cross the motorway), but they certainly arrive in White Deer Park before winter.


In the Grip of Winter is (obviously) set in winter, the first winter after the Farthing Wood animals arrive in White Deer Park. It's a one-season story, so that's easy.


Fox's Feud starts with the birth of Fox and Vixen's four cubs, and The Fox Cub Bold makes a few references to seasons which mean that both books together span almost exactly one year:

"I've yet to survive my first winter. [...] I opened my eyes for the first time last spring."

-- The Fox Cub Bold, Chapter 13: "The Changes of a Season"

Spring was approaching. In but a few weeks he would have been one year old.

-- The Fox Cub Bold, Chapter 21: "The Farthing Wood Fox"


The Siege of White Deer Park fixes itself in time with its opening paragraph:

In the Nature Reserve of White Deer Park the animals were looking forward to the bustle of Spring. It was the end of February and dead Winter's grasp was loosening little by little with each spell of sunshine. The survivors of the band of beasts and birds who had travelled to the haven of the Park from their destroyed home in Farthing Wood had passed their third winter in the confines of the Reserve.

-- The Siege of White Deer Park, Chapter 1: "What Sort of Creature?"

This is another one-season story, as the conclusion takes place in the same spring:

"The Cat has been called away. It's still spring. That could only be the call of a female crying for a mate!"

-- The Siege of White Deer Park, Chapter 15: "Mossy's Mission"

The epilogue makes reference to summer and autumn passing and another winter approaching, but that's not really part of the main story.


In the Path of the Storm once again sets itself in time with its opening paragraph:

Whistler the heron stood in the shallows of the stream in White Deer Park one early morning in March. It was late winter. Or was it early spring?

-- In the Path of the Storm, Prologue

It's later made clear that this is the year after the previous book, although the season of the great Cat is referred to as summer instead of spring:

To cap it all, last summer a huge hunting animal prowls the Park, picking off its victims at will without any of us being able to mount any resistance to it.

-- In the Path of the Storm, Chapter 4: "Trey"

All four seasons are mentioned in this book, and it ends shortly before the winter:

Fox turned to Adder. "Please don't put yourself at risk," he advised the snake. "Toad's already slumbering in his winter quarters. We don't want any more losses."

"I'll wait awhile," Adder said firmly. "There have been no frosts so far. And one thing's for sure. There is no dearth of leaves to bury myself in at night."

-- In the Path of the Storm, Chapter 18: "The Missing Ones"


Battle for the Park once again starts in spring, and there are several references to the storm which therefore seems to be fairly recent. Presumably this is the next spring after the end of the previous book:

One beautiful sunny day in late April Plucky and Dash went gambolling together. "Race me," Dash challenged the fox, "over the grass to the leaning pine."

"I never go near leaning trees," Plucky answered. "After the great storm, you can never be sure when they might fall."

-- Battle for the Park, Chapter 1: "Fox and Hare"

Again, it seems likely that this entire story takes place over less than one year, as there's no mention of winter or of Adder disappearing to hibernate.


To summarise: if The Animals of Farthing Wood starts in year n, then Fox's Feud takes place in year n+1 and The Fox Cub Bold ends in year n+2, then The Siege of White Deer Park takes place in year n+3 and In the Path of the Storm in year n+4, with Battle for the Park presumably set in year n+5, and Farthing Wood: the Adventure Begins set in year n-5. Thus, the answer to the original question is that all the listed books take about five years between them, with the prequel novel being set another five years earlier.

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