Publisher Frances Lincoln, in association with the National Trust, has today announced the shortlist for The Wainwright Prize 2016, an annual award to celebrate the best UK nature and travel writing.
The six shortlisted titles are:
- Common Ground, Rob Cowen (Windmill)
- The Outrun, Amy Liptrot (Canongate)
- Landmarks, Robert Macfarlane (Penguin)
- The Moth Snowstorm, Michael McCarthy (John Murray)
- The Fish Ladder, Katharine Norbury (Bloomsbury)
- The Shepherd’s Life, James Rebanks (Penguin)
Now in its third year, the prize awards £5,000 annually to the work that best reflects renowned nature writer Alfred Wainwright’s core values of celebrating the great British outdoors.
This year’s shortlist draws a spotlight on the continued resurgence of nature and travel writing in the UK and the staggering breadth of personal issues explored through the genre.
Memoir features strongly, with Amy Liptrot’s experience of alcoholism and recovery explored through her wild Orkney homeland (The Outrun), Rob Cowen’s journey into parenthood set within his exploration of a square-mile of Yorkshire woodland (Common Ground), Katharine Norbury’s life spent walking Britain’s glittering rivers (The Fish Ladder), James Rebank’s account of life as a shepherd in the Lake District (A Shepherd’s Life), and Michael McCarthy’s moving memoir of childhood trauma that offers a rallying cry for protecting our environment (The Moth Snowstorm). Meanwhile, Robert Macfarlane rounds off the shortlist, earning his second shortlisting with his meditation on words and landscape (Landmarks).
Dame Fiona Reynolds, chair of the judging panel, said: “We are thrilled to present a shortlist of books that so wonderfully showcases the great breadth and depth of work inspired by our natural world. Our landscape has never been more challenged by change and in very different ways these books remind us of the important role the natural world plays in our personal lives. Each book here provides a unique and uplifting discovery of some aspect or part of the UK, while gifting us with profound and moving experiences. Alfred Wainwright would be very pleased indeed.”
The prize is judged by a panel comprised of chair Dame Fiona Reynolds; Julia Bradbury, TV presenter; Sally Palmer, publisher of National Trust Magazine; Bill Lyons, executive producer of Coast & Countryfile; Dan Lewis, Marketing Manager of Stanfords; and Fergus Collins, editor of Countryfile Magazine. Assisting in the judging process are Eric Robson and Jane King from The Wainwright Society.
The prize is sponsored by Wainwright Golden Beer, the iconic brand celebrating its namesake’s inspirational and determined approach to overcoming challenges, and supported by partners Stanfords and The National Trust. Previous winners of the prize include Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel (2015) and The Green Road into Trees: A Walk Through England by Hugh Thomson (2014).
The winner will be announced on Friday 5 August in a special event at Countryfile Live in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, in front of a public audience of over 300 people in the National Trust Arena. Highlights from the festival will be shown on BBC One’s Countryfile in August.