The Lost Words (Hamish Hamilton) has become the first children’s book to be shortlisted for the £5,000 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for nature writing.
The much-lauded title sits alongside books from Alys Fowler, Raynor Winn and Neil Ansell on the shortlist, which celebrates the “role that nature writing can play in shining a spotlight on wider social, environmental and personal issues” according to a prize spokesperson.
Ansell’s The Last Wilderness (Tinder Press) Hidden Nature (Hodder & Stoughton) by Fowler and Outskirts (Sceptre) by John Grindrod have made the cut, alongside John Lister-Kaye’s The Dun Cow Rib (Canongate), The Seabird’s Cry (William Collins) by Adam Nicolson and Winn's The Salt Path (Michael Joseph). The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris completes the list. Macfarlane has been shortlisted for the award twice before. The longlist of 13 titles was revealed last month.
The award is given annually to the book which most successfully reflects the ethos of renowned nature writer Alfred Wainwright’s work, to inspire readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world.
Chair of judges TV presenter Julia Bradbury described the prize “as significant as ever," adding “the upsurge in nature writing is welcomed by us all and chairing the judging panel for this prize is a genuine joy”.
“The books that my fellow judges and I have shortlisted demonstrate the different faces of nature, experienced and expressed in strikingly different ways,” she said. “The breadth and variety of nature writing in the UK today is exciting and unpredictable, and it’s a thrill to celebrate that diversity.”
Joining Bradbury on the judging panel are TV presenter Megan Hine; Waterstones non-fiction buyer Bea Carvalho; National Trust publisher Katie Bond and ex-chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Peter Waine.
The prize shortlist will be celebrated at a party at Waterstones Piccadilly in London on Thursday (5th July). The winner will be announced at an event in the National Trust Arena at BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace for the third year running on 2nd August.
Last year’s Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize was won by John Lewis-Stempel for Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War (W&N).
Prize organisers are also calling on bookshops and libraries to enter the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Display Competition by tweeting an image of their selection of the Wainwright shortlist or winner display before 31st August. The winning display will win 10 National Trust Family Day Passes and 24 bottles of Wainwright Golden Beer.