Matthew Oates' lifelong interest in butterflies began in the landscape around Knepp over 50 years ago.
Poet, author of In Pursuit of Butterflies, broadcaster, ecologist, Nature Notebook writer for The Times and life member of Butterfly Conservation, he retired in 2018 from his position as Specialist on Naturewith the National Trust to study Purple Emperors, write, and re-wild himself.
The Purple Emperor is his life's work. He is writing His Imperial Majesty, a natural history of the Purple Emperor butterfly (Bloomsbury, May 2020).
"Knepp Wildland gives me the opportunity to give back to a landscape that gave me so much as a boy. And I am fervently behind the rewilding cause, and in particular the development of large-scale new age pasture woodland under extensive grazing, and the move away from target and prescription-driven nature conservation. The fact that the Wildland now supports the strongest population of the Purple Emperor in the country is almost secondary, I’d be here anyway –embracing its wondrous future. Knepp keeps calling me home."