On Wednesday 7th September 2022: The winners of the three categories of the 2022 JAMES CROPPER WAINWRIGHT PRIZE were announced at a ceremony at the London Wetland Centre.
The ceremony included panel discussions with the shortlistees across all three award categories: Nature Writing, Writing on Conservation, and Children’s Writing, before the winners were announced by their respective Chairs of Judges, TV presenters Ray Mears, Charlotte Smith and Gemma Hunt.
Now in its ninth year, the prize is named after much-loved nature writer Alfred Wainwright and is awarded annually to the books which most successfully inspire readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world. A £7,500 prize fund will be shared by the authors of the three winning books, with each receiving a specially commissioned original artwork by paper artist, Helen Musselwhite.
WINNER: Goshawk Summer: The Diary of an Extraordinary Season in the Forest by James Aldred (Elliott & Thompson).
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Otherlands: A World in the Making by Dr Thomas Halliday (Allen Lane) and On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging by Nicola Chester (Chelsea Green Publishing).
James Aldred, a wildlife cameraman who has collaborated with David Attenborough, won the Nature Writing Prize for his acutely observed lockdown nature diary, Goshawk Summer. Commissioned to film the lives of a family of goshawks in the New Forest at the start of 2020, Aldred was granted permission to stay when lockdown struck, offering him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the ancient forest at an ‘extraordinary time’ – empty of people, but filled with new life. Against the backdrop of fragility and fear in the wider world, Aldred captures, in minute detail, the day-to-day drama of an avian predator’s nest, celebrating the wonder of the natural world and inspiring readers to explore and protect the nature on their own doorsteps.
Chair of judges, TV presenter Ray Mears commented:
“There was a stunning collection of books to choose from on our shortlist. So much so, that we felt compelled to highly commend not one, but two great books. In the end we decided to hand the prize to a beautiful inspirational tale set in an extraordinary time. Nature is abundant all around us, if only we could take the time to REALLY look for it. This wonderful book shows us how.”
WINNER: Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them by Dan Saladino (Jonathan Cape).
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Wild Fell: Fighting for Nature on a Lake District Hill Farm by Lee Schofield (Doubleday).
From the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme presenter, Dan Saladino’s ‘highly original,’ radical and hopeful investigation into food biodiversity, Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them won the Writing on Conservation Prize. The result of fifteen years of research, Saladino examines the past, present and future of food through edibles that are at risk of vanishing forever, offering ‘enormous insight’ into where our food comes from. Explaining why diversity matters for food security, our health, for local economies and for the future of the planet, this book is a rallying cry for reclaiming genetic biodiversity before it is too late.
Charlotte Smith, Chair of Judges and BBC Countryfile presenter commented:
“Our winner is encyclopaedic in scope, the result of a staggering fifteen years of research. We felt it was at turns; highly original, engrossing, fascinating & very clever. It offered enormous insight into where food comes from on a global level and offers clear, gently expressed solutions – it gave us enormous hope for the future”
WINNER: The Biggest Footprint: Eight Billion Humans. One Clumsy Giant by Rob and Tom Sears (Canongate).
HIGHLY COMMENDED: 2022 Yoto Carnegie Medal winner, October, October by Katya Balen, Illustrated by Angela Harding (Bloomsbury).
A ‘totally unique,’ ‘highly innovative’, beautifully illustrated book which uses statistics to present the challenges of climate change in new light, The Biggest Footprint: Eight Billion Humans. One Clumsy Giant, won the inaugural Children’s Writing on Nature and Conservation Prize. By reimagining the whole of humanity as one massive giant, writer/illustrator brothers Rob and Tom Sears take a revelatory look at the damage humanity has inflicted on the planet and how we might begin to rectify it, in an empowering story that will inspire younger readers to make the world a better place.
Chair of Judges and CBBC Presenter, Gemma Hunt commented:
“This totally unique and highly innovative book captured all our imaginations. It’s an empowering, insightful tale that helps us all, at any age, understand and take ownership of the biggest threat of our lifetime. Such a clever and original book that feels totally deserving of our inaugural prize.”
Mark Cropper, Chairman of Headline sponsors, sustainable paper manufacturer, James Cropper, said:
“We would like to congratulate and thank all the shortlisted authors for everything that they are doing to educate and inspire us to create a better world. This year’s winners make some of the biggest issues the natural world faces today incredibly accessible, while conveying the beauty and power of nature through such innovative and skilled writing. Telling stories through paper is something our business has done for nearly two centuries, and it is a joy to see all the authors doing that very thing in such a meaningful way, encouraging us all to embrace and protect what our environment has to offer.”
The prize was founded and is still supported by both the Alfred Wainwright Estate & Frances Lincoln, publisher of the Wainwright Guides.
Headline sponsors, 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/