Thursday 14th September 2023: The winners of the three categories of the 2023 JAMES CROPPER WAINWRIGHT PRIZE were announced today at the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the Prize in Kendal in Cumbria – the southern gateway to the Lake District and the home of much-loved nature writer, Alfred Wainwright.
A fitting location for the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the Prize which is awarded annually to the books which most successfully inspire readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world, this year’s winning books cast a spotlight on remarkable habitats – wild rivers, lost rainforests and the wonderous Arctic – inspiring advocacy for, and reconnection with, nature for readers of all ages.
The Nature Writing Prize was awarded to Amy-Jane Beer, a Yorkshire-based biologist, writer and campaigner for equality of access to nature for Flow: Rivers, Water and Wildness (Bloomsbury), her ‘elegant’ and ‘topical’ reflection on finding strength, solace and wonder in Britain’s waterways, after losing a close friend in a kayaking accident. Exploring themes of adventure and access to wild places, grief and healing, cyclicity and transformation, the book is a passionate advocate for protecting the living, flowing habitats around us.
Alastair Giles, Director of the James Cropper Wainwright Prize said:
“Our 2023 Nature Book of the Year winner is regrettably very topical, and every judge absolutely loved the book. The glorious detail and personal experiences, all written in such elegant and beautifully poetic language, was unparalleled.”
The Writing on Conservation Prize has been won by Guy Shrubsole, a writer and environmental campaigner from Devon, for The Lost Rainforests of Britain (William Collins), the ‘highly original’ story of our forgotten temperate rainforests, and the efforts to restore and protect them. Inspired by a chance discovery of a surviving fragment of rainforest on the edge of Dartmoor, Shrubsole explores these spectacular lost worlds across the UK, offering ‘powerful ideas and hope’ about how they might be bought back to life, and inspiring connection with these magical places.
Chair of Judges, Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“A highly original, meticulously researched and beautifully written book which takes the reader on a thrilling journey to one of the rarest, most precious habitats to be found in Britain, while also offering some powerful ideas and hope about how the decline of these majestic rainforests might be reversed. Shrubsole’s inquisitive, determined, passionate personality shines through, and offers the reader education, inspiration and entertainment from start to finish”.
Bestselling writer Kiran Millwood Hargrave and illustrator Tom de Freston from Oxford have won the Children’s Writing on Nature and Conservation Prize for Leila and the Blue Fox (Hachette Children’s Group), the story of a young fox and a girl on an unforgettable Arctic adventure, based on the true story of an Arctic fox who walked two thousand miles from Norway to Canada in seventy-six days. The judges praised Kiran’s ‘exceptional writing’ and Tom’s ‘hauntingly beautiful illustrations’ in a book that will ‘inspire young people to engage with the natural world,’ in the face of climate change.
Mark Funnell, Chair of Judges and Communication and Campaign Director at the National Trust, said: “The interplay between Kiran’s profoundly affecting writing and Tom’s hauntingly beautiful illustrations is uniquely potent, plunging us into the intertwined worlds of family relationships and nature obsession with a visceral impact that readers won’t forget. It’s hard to think of a book that could do more to inspire young people to engage with the natural world, in this case as climate change tears up the rule book for species migration and survival, but without extinguishing all hope. Exceptional storytelling, and a triumph of the genre.”
Mark Cropper, Chairman of Headline sponsors, sustainable paper manufacturer, James Cropper, said: “Congratulations and thank you to all the shortlisted authors for their incredible contributions. This year’s winners have once again inspired us in our collective work towards a better world. Working with my fellow judges on identifying the winners has been a real privilege; the process has been enlightening, and I wish all the authors the very best for the future.”
More about the James Cropper Wainwright Prize
2023 is the tenth anniversary of the Prize, which was founded and is still supported by both the Alfred Wainwright Estate & Frances Lincoln, publisher of the Wainwright Guides. A £10,000 prize fund will be shared between the winners, with each receiving a specially commissioned original artwork by dried flower embroiderer, Olga Prinku.
The Prize Ceremony took place in Kendal in Cumbria where Alfred Wainwright worked and lived, as part of a festival-style celebration for its 10th anniversary and legacy in partnership with the Kendal Mountain Festival, featuring specially curated author events and the announcement of the winners of the 2023 prize.
Headline sponsor, papermaker James Cropper has supported the Prize for three years. Having made fine papers for publishing, premium print, art and luxury packaging since 1845 in the very town where Alfred Wainwright lived and worked, the partnership underpins the shared history and purpose of the two organisations.
This year’s visual campaign for the Prize is produced in partnership with the talented dried flower embroiderer, Olga Prinku, who grows and forages for materials in North Yorkshire.
This year’s judging panels are chaired by TV presenter Charlotte Smith (Nature), CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, Craig Bennett (Conservation) and National Trust’s Communication and Campaign Director, Mark Funnell (Children’s).