The 2022 JAMES CROPPER WAINWRIGHT PRIZE today, Thursday 28th July 2022, announced their three shortlists, including the inaugural Children’s Writing on Nature and Conservation Prize.
Named after much-loved nature writer Alfred Wainwright, the aim of the Prize is to inspire everyone to connect with nature and embrace the outdoors. This year’s shortlisted books reflect the astonishing range and depth of nature writing, with titles that confront difficult, yet vitally important issues around climate change, food supplies and the decline of insects, stressing urgency of action whilst offering hope for the future, celebrating the wonder of life everywhere – from our back gardens to the Arctic Circle – and illuminating the healing power of nature through stories of personal connection and discovery.
Two previous winners feature on this year’s shortlists. Teenage naturalist, Dara McAnulty, winner of the 2020 Nature Writing Prize, is shortlisted for the Children’s Prize for Wild Child: A Journey Through Nature, his multi-sensory guide to exploring the nature on your doorstep. Amy Liptrot, whose debut The Outrun won the 2016 Nature Writing Prize, is shortlisted again for The Instant, her memoir about leaving behind the quiet isolation of the Orkneys for new experiences in Berlin.
Now in its ninth year, the Nature Writing Prize judging panel is chaired by TV presenter Ray Mears. BBC Countryfile presenter, Charlotte Smith, is the Chair of Judges for the Conservation Prize and current CBeebies TV presenter, Gemma Hunt, chairs the new Children’s Prize.
Goshawk Summer: A New Forest Season Unlike Any Other, James Aldred (Elliott & Thompson)
On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging, Nicola Chester (Chelsea Green Publishing)
Shadowlands: A Journey Through Lost Britain, Matthew Green (Faber & Faber)
The Instant, Amy Liptrot (Canongate)
Time on Rock: A Climber’s Route into the Mountains, Anna Fleming (Canongate)
Otherlands: A World in the Making, Dr Thomas Halliday (Allen Lane)
Powerful, personal stories of self-discovery that celebrate a unique connection with nature are the theme of many of the shortlisted titles, including Time on Rock which charts Anna Fleming’s journey from terrified beginner to confident lead climber, as climbing offers her a profound new way into the natural world. In The Instant, 2016 Wainwright Nature Writing Prize winner Amy Liptrot leaves behind the quiet isolation of her beloved Orkneys for Berlin, meticulously charting the phases of the moon as she searches for love, new experiences and urban wildlife.
Whilst some of the shortlisted books in this category offer a new perspective on familiar, much-loved British landscapes, such as the New Forest of wildlife cameraman James Aldred’s Goshawk Summer and the North Wessex Downs of nature writer and school librarian Nicola Chester’s On Gallows Down, others explore wholly unfamiliar territory. Historian Matthew Green’s dazzlingly original Shadowlands examines the forgotten history of Britain’s lost cities, ghost towns and vanished villages, whilst award-winning young palaeobiologist Thomas Halliday’s Otherlands takes us even further back in time, showing us the Earth as it used to exist, and the worlds that were here before ours, to provide a mesmerising encounter with eras that are normally unimaginably distant.
Our Biggest Experiment: A History of the Climate Crisis, Alice Bell (Bloomsbury Sigma)
Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse, Dave Goulson (Vintage)
The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires that Run the World, Oliver Milman (Atlantic Books)
Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet, George Monbiot (Allen Lane)
The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth, Ben Rawlence (Jonathan Cape)
Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them, Dan Saladino (Jonathan Cape)
Wild Fell: Fighting for Nature on a Lake District Hill Farm, Lee Schofield (Doubleday)
The complicated interdependency of all life on earth is a key message of each shortlisted book in this category. The global future of food is examined by environmental activist George Monbiot in Regenesis, a startlingly original work which dares to imagine a world free of farming as we have known it, while Eating to Extinction by broadcaster and journalist Dan Saladino is an inspiring account of endangered foods and food cultures across the planet and a rallying call to protect the world’s diversity before it is too late.
The potential cataclysmic consequences to the planet of the decline of insects is explored by Professor of Biology at Sussex University, Dave Goulson, in Silent Earth, a love letter to the insect world and a rousing manifesto for change. Environmental correspondent Oliver Milman celebrates both the incredible variety of insects in all their strangeness and beauty and the inspiring people who tirelessly study and conserve them in The Insect Crisis.
Damaged landscapes are explored in The Treeline, Ben Rawling’s spellbinding investigation into the precious Arctic treeline, at the very frontline of climate change, and in Wild Fell, a passionate account of the battle to restore nature to RSPB Haweswater, a reserve incorporating working farms in the Lake District, by ecologist and site manager Lee Schofield.
Despite depicting a world in crisis, the shortlisted books are shot through with optimism, capturing the energy of a global movement of people dedicating their lives to saving the planet and inspiring us to believe that turning the tide is still possible. Our Biggest Experiment, by climate campaigner and writer Alice Bell, chronicles the science and history of climate change, delivering the hopeful message that by harnessing the ingenuity and intelligence that has long driven the history of climate change research, we can find a more sustainable future for humanity.
Around the World in 80 Trees, Ben Lerwill, illustrated by Kaja Kajfež (Welbeck)
By Rowan and Yew, Melissa Harrison (Chicken House)
Julia and the Shark, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston (Orion Children’s Books)
October, October, Katya Balen, illustrated by Angela Harding (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth, Nicola Davies, illustrated by Jenni Desmond (Walker Books)
The Biggest Footprint: Eight billion humans. One Clumsy Giant, Rob Sears, illustrated by Tom Sears (Canongate)
Wild Child: A Journey Through Nature, Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The joy of being wild is celebrated by many of this category’s shortlisted books – which include both fiction and non-fiction titles – including young naturalist Dara McAnulty’s Wild Child, a family friendly guide to exploring the natural world on our doorsteps, beautifully illustrated by Barry Falls. Katya Balen’s 2022 Yoto Carnegie Medal winning novel October, October, illustrated by Angela Harding, is the life affirming story of a girl who fights to find the space to be wild in the whirling chaos of the world beyond her beloved woods. The lure and healing wonder of wild places is lyrically explored by multi award-winning novelist Kiran Millwood Hargrave and her illustrator-partner Tom de Freston in the couple’s first collaborative work, Julia and the Shark.
Complex environmental issues are tackled in highly original and imaginative ways in The Biggest Footprint by writer/illustrator brothers Rob and Tom Sears, who re-imagine the whole of humanity as one massive giant to personalise the issue of climate change for younger readers and show how humans can do a better job of looking after our planet. Acclaimed nature writer Melissa Harrison’s By Rowan and Yew is a magical tale of a disappearing wilderness and the three tiny, funny, eternal beings – the hidden folk – who are fighting for survival.
Beautiful artwork designed to inspire children’s imaginations features in all of the shortlisted titles, including Around the World in 80 Trees, a stunning visual celebration of trees both familiar and unfamiliar, highlighting their importance and how we can help them have a healthy future, by travel writer Ben Lerwill and illustrator Kaja Kajfež. One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth by Nicola Davies is a spectacular tour of Planet Earth and a powerfully rallying cry against climate change, with delightful illustrations by Jenni Desmond.
The prize was founded and is still supported by both the Alfred Wainwright Estate & Frances Lincoln, publisher of the Wainwright Guides. The £7,500 prize fund will be shared between and presented to the authors of the three winning books.
Headline sponsors and papermaker James Cropper have made a multi-year commitment to the Prize. 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 paper artist, Helen Musselwhite, who lives in Manchester and whose work is inspired by the British countryside: https://helenmusselwhite.com/