Novelist. Poet. Architect.

Environmentalist. Birdwatcher.

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Vernon R.L Head is a South African poet, a bestselling novelist, renowned architect, and passionate environmentalist. His first book – a non-fiction narrative – titled The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World, was long-listed for the 2015 Sunday Times Alan Paton Literature Prize. His first novel, titled A Tree for the Birds, was long-listed for the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. And his poetry has been long-listed for the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Prize in 2014, 2017, and again in 2019. A Tree for the Birds was shortlisted for the 2020 National Institute of Humanities & Social Sciences Fiction Prize.

Born and raised in Cape Town, Vernon R.L. Head is currently the principal architect at Cape Town’s much-lauded Head & Long Architects and serves as a director on the Board of BirdLife South Africa, one of Africa’s biggest and most successful conservation NGOs. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

In 2017 Vernon R.L. Head was elected as a Fellow International of the Explorers Club in New York for his writings on the environment. Vernon R.L. Head has written three books and edited a collection of short stories. He is presently working on a new novel.”


Vernon R.L Head writes about the natural world and our delicate place at the very edge of the wilderness. His prose screams a warning to the call of the gentle songbird.

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Vernon R.L Head is currently the principal architect at Cape Town’s Head & Long Architects, a design firm he founded in 1993. His work has received international recognition.

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Publishers Weekly

Head’s language is laudatory, his tone elegiac.

The Wall Street Journal

Mr Head’s gently rocking prose is dense with surprising metaphor and exquisitely descriptive phrases, the kind that make a reader double back to savor them twice.

Michele MagwoodSunday Times

It is accomplished, vivid, lyrical prose that is full of wonderment.

Athol Fugard

A truly enthralling book that reads like a good detective yarn. The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World is a must-read for anyone delights in birds and the magic of their flight.