Search icon

Roaming Wild

News Section Icon Published 09/10/2023

A new book, revealing the powerful but little-known story of Anna and Peter Roberts, the founders of Compassion in World Farming.  Two compassionate souls united in love for farmed animals.

It tells the story of the Roberts family, their era, their influence, their rebellion and their brave founding of the charity.

Spanning their birth in the early 1920s, their childhoods and World War II, it documents the major changes of post-war agricultural life and charts the triumphs and challenges of campaign life fighting on behalf of animals, farmers, and the environment, as well as the romantic detail of their whirlwind meeting and marriage in the 1950s.

Their personal transformation was at a time when the British countryside was undergoing huge change with the advent of factory farming. Farmed animals were disappearing inside to be caged and confined. Wildlife was being destroyed with the implementation of monoculture cropping — single crops in prairie-like fields — and the profligate spraying of deadly pesticides such as DDT. These changes would alter the course of Peter and Anna’s own lives, leading them to turn away from being practising farmers, instead, becoming intensive farming’s staunchest critics.

Peter and Anna’s bravery, insight and compassion provides an inspiring story of great magnitude. They could see how factory farming was not only cruel to animals but had profound consequences for our health and future survival. Back in the sixties, they were already forecasting ‘Farmageddon’: the threat to a sustainable society as a result of the shift to factory farming.

Starting as just a backroom protest, Peter and Anna founded Compassion in 1967, but then followed the highs and lows of campaign life, a court battle with an order of veal-farming Catholic monks, famine campaigns in Ethiopia, work alongside comedian Spike Milligan, model Celia Hammond and philosopher Peter Singer, challenging EU legislation, and battles with agricultural chemical companies. Corporate giants like McDonald's were influenced to go free-range, even the British Royal family was challenged to go free-range, and animals were put on the agenda of every major political party in the 1970s and much more.

The book interweaves the personal with the political and documents the highs and lows of family life, the judgement faced when they chose to raise their three daughters as vegetarians in the 1960s, their myriad spiritual quests, including the couple's time spent in the Indian ashram of Sathya Sai Baba, their rewilding of the land near their family home, and the story of their fifty-year love.

This is a tale of an 'ordinary couple with an extraordinary vision' and the founding of a charity which has since grown into a powerful global movement, achieving profound and enduring advancements in farmed animal welfare and a mission to place compassion at the heart of everything we do.

About the author

Emma is a writer and educator living in London. Her interests focus on animal sentience, nature and the environment, as well as the effects of post-war agricultural systems on biodiversity, and the lives of farm workers. She is the granddaughter of the founders of Compassion in World Farming.


"It has been a privilege to be the person to tell my grandparent's story. They were humble individuals and so I had not, until researching and writing this book, fully understood the enormous impact, as well as the radical scope of their environmental, welfarist and compassionate vision. They were a couple unafraid to stand up against powerful establishments and authority when those groups needed to be challenged. My hope is that this book will shine a light on both their work and that of other early campaigners, supporters and volunteers who worked tirelessly alongside them, those unsung activists. Their legacy is a powerful and galvanising one and my wish is that on reading ‘Roaming Wild’ you too are inspired by their lives!”

Emma Silverthorn

“In this book, we discover what it was like to be an early pioneer advocating concern for all creatures, whether human or non-human. It’s a particularly human story of ordinary people that did extraordinary things. Above all, this is a tale of a couple’s undying love for each other, and their compassion for all, encompassed in a vision based on forecasting farmageddon.” 

Philip Lymbery, Global CEO of Compassion in World Farming

Roaming Wild by Emma Silverthorn. Is a terrific read. This is a biography of a relationship made in heaven but firmly rooted on earth, a love not only for each other but for our wonderful planet and all those species with whom we share it, particularly those animals imprisoned in our food systems. Two amazing people, Anna and Peter Roberts, whose kindness and empathy turned compassion into action and founded Compassion in World Farming. I urge you to read it.

Peter Egan, actor, animal advocate and activist 


For more information, a review copy or to arrange interview, please contact Ali Large on +44 (0) 7966 446478

A percentage of the book royalties will go to Compassion in World Farming.


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).