The shortlists for the Wainwright Prize 2020 are announced today, Thursday 30th July. Named after nature writer Alfred Wainwright, this year’s prize feels more timely than ever as our need to reconnect with nature has never been stronger. Against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and with our natural landscapes under increasing threat from the climate crisis, nature and conservation writing has flourished. Now in its seventh year, the UK Nature Writing Prize is awarded annually to the book which most successfully inspires readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world. This year’s prize has been extended to include a second category for Writing on Global Conservation, and the two shortlists reflect the breadth and range of contemporary nature writing both in the UK and around the world. From a 15 year old star of the conservation movement’s diary which breaks the mould of modern nature writing, to one woman’s paean to the joy of roaming, the 2020 shortlists shine a spotlight on an exciting group of writers who are signalling a golden age of the genre.
The shortlist for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing is:
Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty (Little Toller Books)
The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange (William Collins)
On the Red Hill by Mike Parker (Cornerstone, Penguin Random House UK)
Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash (Bloomsbury)
Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape by Patrick Laurie (Birlinn)
Dancing with Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard & John Walters, illustrator (Chelsea Green Publishing)
Wanderland by Jini Reddy (Bloomsbury Wildlife)
The 2020 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation shortlist is:
Irreplaceable by Julian Hoffman (Penguin/Hamish Hamilton)
Life Changing by Helen Pilcher (Sigma, Bloomsbury)
Rebirding by Benedict Macdonald (Pelagic)
Sitopia by Carolyn Steel (Vintage/Chatto & Windus)
What We Need to Do Now by Chris Goodall (Profile Books)
Working with Nature by Jeremy Purseglove (Profile Books)
This year’s Nature Writing judging panel is chaired by TV presenter Julia Bradbury, and her fellow judges are: Geoff Duffield, Wildlife Trust volunteer and former publisher; Andrew Willan, Wealden Festival Director; Patrick Neale, Bookseller Jaffe & Neale; Jessica J Lee, Editor WillowHerb Review; Celia Richardson, Director of Communications and Insight, National Trust.
The Chair of Judges for the new Global Conservation Prize is BBC Countryfile presenter, Charlotte Smith. She is joined by Adrian Phillips, conservationist; Rachel Woolliscroft, sustainability expert; and Craig Bennett, CEO UK Wildlife Trusts.
Julia Bradbury comments: “In these difficult and uncertain times it has once again been a delight to chair the judging of the Wainwright Prize for nature writing. All of the books that my fellow judges and I have shortlisted are perfect reading for the Coronavirus crisis, and they have helped me and many others during the lockdown. I don’t think there has ever been a better time to reconnect and reflect on the importance of nature in all our lives. Nature’s restorative effects are renowned and all of the selected books amplify that truth.”
Celia Richardson at the National Trust adds: “This year’s Wainwright shortlist has proven the ultimate lockdown escape – across seascapes, landscapes, into wilderness and, perhaps the greatest privilege, into the minds of authors: vexed, wounded and joyful. The talent on display is extraordinary, and I hope to see the books in National Trust cafés and reading rooms all year-round.”
The winners’ announcement will be made on 8th September.
The prize is supported by Frances Lincoln Publishers, publisher of the Wainwright Guides, the Wainwright Estate and in partnership with the National Trust. The £5,000 prize fund will be shared and presented to the authors of the winning books. Last year’s winner was Underland by Robert Macfarlane.