2021 Shortlist Announcement

Shortlists announced for the 2021 Wainwright Prize sponsored by James Cropper

Winners’ ceremony to be held at The London Wetland Centre, one of the UK’s leading conservation charities.

The shortlists for the much-loved Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing and for Global Conservation Writing are announced today, Wednesday 4th August at 4pm. Named after nature writer Alfred Wainwright, the prizes are awarded to the work which best reflects Wainwright’s core values and includes a celebration of nature and our natural environment, or a warning of the dangers to it across the globe. Still in the midst of recovering from the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic and with our landscapes under threat, nature writing has flourished. Now in its eighth year, the prize is awarded annually to the books which most successfully inspire readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world. 

Sponsored for the first time by James Cropper, the two shortlists reflect the breadth and range of contemporary nature writing both in the UK and around the world. The titles selected showcase a diverse group of writers and celebrate the wonder and awe of green spaces and natures’ creatures through the prism of the authors’ lives.


The shortlist for the 2021 Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing is: 

English Pastoral: An Inheritance, James Rebanks, Penguin Press

Featherhood, Charlie Gilmour, Orion Publishing Group

I Belong Here, Anita Sethi, Bloomsbury

Seed to Dust, Marc Hamer, Vintage

The Screaming Sky, Charles Foster, Little Toller Books

The Wild Silence, Raynor Winn, Michael Joseph

Thin Places, Kerri ni Dochartaigh, Canongate Books


The 2021 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation shortlist is:

A Life on Our Planet, David Attenborough, Penguin Random House

Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake, Vintage

Fathoms, Rebecca Giggs, Scribe

Islands of Abandonment, Cal Flyn, HarperCollins

Net Zero: How we Stop Causing Climate Change, Dieter Helm, HarperCollins

Under A White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert, Vintage


This year’s Nature Writing judging panel is chaired by TV presenter Julia Bradbury. Her fellow judges are: Geoff Duffield, Wildlife Trust volunteer and former publisher; Jessica J Lee, Editor WillowHerb Review; Ray Mears, TV Presenter and Author, Mark Funnell, Communications and Campaigns Director, National Trust; Patrick Neale, Bookseller Jaffe & Neale and Andrew Willan, Wealden Festival Director.

The Chair of Judges for the Global Conservation Prize is BBC Countryfile presenter, Charlotte Smith. She is joined by Adrian Phillips, Environmental Professional; Dr. Craig Bennett, CEO UK Wildlife Trust; Rachel Woolliscroft, sustainability expert; Anita Longley, Chair, Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and Nigel Roby, Community Energy Enthusiast and Strategic Advisor.


Wainwright Prize judge, Communications and Campaigns Director for the National Trust, Mark Funnell said:

I’m thrilled to be involved with judging this year, it’s a very strong shortlist indeed. And this at a time when people have been turning to nature, more than at any time in living memory. The Wainwright Prize is going from strength to strength, and the National Trust is proud to support it.


The Wainwright Prize 2021 winners’ ceremony will take place on 7 September 2021 at The London Wetland Centre in Barnes, the UK’s leading wetland conservation charity that protects wetlands and wildlife.

The London Wetland Centre was founded by Peter Scott, the son of Antarctic explorer Captain Scott. In 1946 he set up the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge as a centre for science and conservation. Uniquely at the time, he opened it to the public so that anyone could enjoy getting close to nature.

The Centres now welcome a million visitors each year to nine Wetland Centres across the UK, and undertake more research and conservation projects around the world than ever.

The London Wetland Centre was opened in 2000 and provides an oasis for wildlife, and a place for tranquillity for people in the heart of the London suburbs. It therefore, is the perfect setting and location to host this year’s physical Wainwright Prize Awards Ceremony.


Wainwright Prize Director, Alastair Giles said:

‘We’ve strived to meet the conservation aspirations of the authors in consideration for the Wainwright Prize this year. We’re absolutely delighted to partner with such a forward-thinking company as James Cropper and we’ve ensured that, as much as possible, of the official point of sale material for the prize will be printed on their sustainable paper.

The London Wetland Centre, is a leading Conservation Charity, and by holding our award ceremony there, we will be directly contributing to the Global Conservation of Wildlife and Wetlands. I can’t wait to meet the superb collection of shortlisted authors at the ceremony on Sept 7th. It’s been a long time since nature and conservation writers have been able to gather together in person.’


The Wainwright Prize recently announced the agreement of a 3-year deal for headline sponsorship with James Cropper, a prestige paper innovator, based in the English Lake District, with an operational reach in over 50 countries. James Cropper papers have long been the choice of leading designers, conservationists, artists, writers and poets. They have been making fine papers for publishing and premium packaging since 1845 in the very town where Alfred Wainwright lived and worked. 


Richard Bracewell, James Cropper, Marketing Director said:

‘Being based in the Lake District and having produced bespoke papers for Alfred Wainwright’s wonderful Pictorial Guides, James Cropper is very proud to sponsor The Wainwright Prize. We are particularly delighted to support and celebrate the very best of today’s writing on nature and conservation, inspiring book lovers of all generations to connect with the natural world. Congratulations to all of the authors shortlisted.’


The Wainwright Prize is also partnered with the National Trust, who continue to support and promote the prize across their platforms and publications. Frances Lincoln Publishers – publisher of the Wainwright Guides and the Wainwright Estate will once again provide a £5,000 prize fund, which will be shared and presented to the authors of the winning books. Last year’s winners were Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty and Rebirding by Benedict Macdonald.

This year’s campaign artwork will be produced in partnership with the talented author and illustrator, Dorien Brouwers. Her fresh, fluid illustration is poised to inject life into the prize aesthetic through an evocative combination of colour, texture and a rich palette of the world’s flora and fauna.