The shortlist of books for the 2019 Richard Jefferies Society/White Horse Bookshop Prize for Nature Writing has been announced. The prize is now in its fifth year.
This year there is an added incentive to buy and read the six shortlisted books – for every one bought at the White Horse Bookshop, a tree will be planted.
They hasten to add that these trees will not be planted by White Horse Bookshop staff themselves: “Someone else will don gumboots and wield the shovel. Planting trees is recognised as one of the most simple and cost-effective ways to improve the environment, locally and globally, and we’re happy to do our bit – and confident that Richard Jefferies would approve.”
It is indeed very much in the spirit of Richard Jefferies (1848 – 1887) who was born at Coate (now part of Swindon). His books on natural history, his essays and novels depict rural life with an intensity of feeling for, and profound awareness of, the natural world.
In awarding the prize the judges look for writing which they feel reflects the spirit and knowledge so evident in Jefferies’ writings.
Last year’s winner Wilding by Isabella Tree was described by one of the judges as a publication that Richard Jefferies himself would have strongly supported. Wilding caught the growing interest in the future of farming and in rural life under climate change, and became a best seller.
The six shortlisted books for 2019 prize are:
On the Marsh – Simon Barnes
Incredible Journeys – David Barrie
The Hidden World of the Fox – Adele Brand
The Nature of Spring – Jim Crumley
Rebirding – Benedict MacDonald
Working with Nature – Jeremy Purseglove
The winner will be announced in May 2020.
BACKGROUND: (John) Richard Jefferies wrote prolifically and sensitively on natural history, rural life and agriculture in late Victorian England. Less well-known now than he deserves to be, Jefferies stands in tradition of writers concerned with man’s relationship to the natural world – a forerunner of today’s abundance of nature writing. Perhaps his best-known works today are Bevis (sometimes described as an English Huckleberry Finn), Round About a Great Estate, and After London, one of the earliest works of ‘post-apocalyptic’ fiction.
There is further information about Jefferies’ life and work here.
ABOUT THE PRIZE: When John Webb, one of the Richard Jefferies Society’s most active members, died in 2014, he left the Society a legacy. It is being used as a memorial to him in the form of The Richard Jefferies Society Writers’ Prize which was first awarded in 2015. The inaugural winner was John Lister-Kaye for Gods of the Morning (Canongate). The prize is jointly sponsored by the Society and the White Horse Bookshop.