The Evolution of Fennel's Journal, Part 1

The Evolution of Fennel's Journal - Part 1

The publication of my new book A Writer's Year celebrates 21 years of Fennel's Journal. It's a coming of age for my writing. But it's possible that you're only aware of the current series of books, written from 2006 to present. There's a lot that came before.

In the spirit of good writing, I've decided to 'show not tell' the evolution of Fennel's Journal by sharing my previously unpublished writing and author's proofs. From the original handwritten letters of 1996, to the creel editions of the late nineties, secret phase writing of the early noughties, to the resurrection of the Journal in 2006 and the magazines, eBooks, hardbacks, paperbacks and audiobooks that followed, this is the series that highlights a writer's journey.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

The Fennel's Journal timeline

The origins of Fennel's Journal

  • 1996: The First handwritten letter is sent (see below)
  • 1996: First letter to bear the Fennel's Priory name
  • 1998: First 'creel edition' booklet is produced

The private writing years

  • 1999-2001 Fennel writes in private, amassing more than 1,000 articles. Some of these would later form the basis of the angling books in the Fennel's Journal series.

The current era

  • 2006: Fennel resumes the handwritten version
  • 2009: Fennel starts producing the handwritten letters as a colour printed version
  • 2011: Fennel's Journal in blog form
  • 2012: Fennel's Journal as a limited edition magazine
  • 2013: Fennel's Journal as eBook
  • 2017: Fennel's Journal as hardback and paperback book
  • 2019: Fennel's Journal as audiobook

1995: The first handwritten letter

The first iteration of Fennel's Journal was a letter written by hand and sent to twenty of my friends each month. Most of these letters were about angling and gardening; some talked about work and the challenges of young adulthood; some talked about spirituality and connection to the natural world. 

Here is my master copy of the very first letter, sent in April 1996. It captures my thoughts about a new season's fishing and addreses some of the issues I was facing as a traditional angler.

Fennel's Journal - the very first letter 1996

The first Fennel's Journal Letter - April 1996

The first Fennel's Journal Letter - April 1996

The first Fennel's Journal Letter - April 1996

The first Fennel's Journal Letter - April 1996

The first Fennel's Journal Letter - April 1996

The first Fennel's Journal Letter - April 1996

The first Fennel's Journal Letter - April 1996


If you like this blog, you might like The Fennel's Journal Story, or Fennel's Traditional Angling Blog. You might also like to subscribe to Fennel on Friday, where you'll receive either a blog, video or podcast sent to you via email in time for the weekend.