Essential Reading in Trying Times: The Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for Nature Writing Shortlist Announced

July 2, 2019

The shortlist for The Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize, which celebrates the best books about nature, the outdoors and UK travel is announced today, Tuesday 2nd July 2019.

Celebrating its sixth year, The Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize, is awarded annually to the book which most successfully reflects the ethos of renowned nature writer Alfred Wainwright’s work, to inspire readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world.

With our natural landscapes under increasing threat from the climate crisis, this is a crucial time to reconnect with nature. From personal journeys in wild places to rallying cries for change, the 2019 shortlist is essential reading in trying times. 

The seven shortlisted titles are:

Underland by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton)
Wilding by Isabella Tree (Picador)
Time Song by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
Our Place by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
Thinking On My Feet by Kate Humble (Aster)
Out Of The Woods by Luke Turner (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Easternmost House by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone Press) 

So important is this collection of books that the Wainwright Prize has sent a full set of the shortlist to the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove. With the UK Government claiming to be at the forefront of driving ambitious climate action and looking likely to be named as the host of the UN’s 2020 Climate Change Conference, the inspiring shortlist is undoubtedly essential reading for Michael Gove and the government at large.

A number of books on the shortlist reflect on the positive impacts wild places can have on our physical and mental wellbeing, from Kate Humble, who shows the power and peace to be found in the simple act of walking in Thinking On My Feet, to Luke Turner’s Out Of The Woods which reveals the shelter and solace the natural world can offer. 

Meanwhile Julia Blackburn and Juliet Blaxland explore changing landscapes and our place within them. In the spellbinding Time Song Julia Blackburn goes in search for truths in the sunken land that once connected Britain to the European mainland while Juliet Blaxland details a year living life on the front line of environmental change in The Easternmost House.

Four-time nominated author Robert Macfarlane’s latest book, Underland, also takes pride of place in the shortlist with a dazzling journey into the places that are hidden from the sun but remain affected by human activity. 

Another previously nominated writer, Mark Cocker, exposes the devastating affects we have had on the wild world in Our Place; a rallying cry for change before it is too late.

And finally, Isabella Tree, offers an engaging insight into the ways in which we can turn back the clock in Wilding which details the Knepp experiment and re-wilding of her farm. 

Central to all of the shortlisted books is an examination of our role within wild and urban landscapes; the effect we have on them and the effect they, in turn, have on us. Each book encourages you to re-examine your relationship with nature and reconnect with it. 

The judging panel for the 2019 prize will be chaired, for the third year running, by TV presenter Julia Bradbury. Julia’s fellow judges are: Waterstones non-fiction buyer Clement Knox; National Trust publisher Katie Bond; publisher at Unbound and joint-host of the popular podcast Blacklisted, John Mitchinson; David Lindo otherwise known as The Urban Birder; and Anna Arnell, creative partner for agency And Rising. 

Chair of judges, Julia Bradbury comments; 

“Within challenging times and facing a climate crisis, British nature writing continues to blossom. The books that my fellow judges and I have shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize demonstrate the role that nature writing can play in shining a spotlight on wider social, environmental and personal issues.”

The winner will be announced on 15th August at an event in the National Trust Arena at BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard, Yorkshire.

The prize named after much-loved nature writer Alfred Wainwright is supported by White Lion Publishing, publisher of the Wainwright Guides, Wainwright Golden Beer, the Wainwright estate and in partnership with the National Trust; the winner will receive a cheque for £5000. 

Last year’s Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize was won by Adam Nicolson for The Seabird’s Cry, the full story of seabirds looking at the pattern of their lives, their habitats, the threats they face and the passions they inspire.


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