It Was the Nightingale (1962) was the tenth volume of Williamson's great roman fleuve, A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. After only a year of married happiness, Phillip Maddison experiences tragedy when his young wife Barley dies in childbirth. Left with a baby son, a cat, a dog and an otter cub he and Barley rescued while on holiday in France, Phillip endures the deepest grief. When the otter goes missing Phillip dedicates his life to searching for her, in the hope that success might grant him a new start in life. "At times almost unbearably poignant...In It Was the Nightingale Maddison enters a world with which Williamson, on the strength of the remarkable Tarka the Otter, will always be associated". (Anthony Burgess, Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English Since 1939).