The Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 2019
Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland, has been announced as the winner of the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 2019, which celebrates the best books about nature.
The author was awarded the £5,000 prize at the National Trust Theatre during BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard in Yorkshire.
Presented by Countryfile presenter, Ellie Harrison, the prize recognised Robert's book Underland, which explores the hidden regions below the surfaces of the world. From the vast below-ground networks that trees use to communicate to the ice-blue depths of glacier shafts, readers are taken on an uncharted journey through mysterious landscapes.
Robert said: 'Alfred Wainwright's Guides to the Lakes were among the first books to lead me up into the mountains; I'm honoured now to win the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for Underland, an exploration of our planet's deep time pasts and precarious futures, told through our ancient, urgent relationship with its underworlds.'
Underland was praised by the judges for being a passionate book that celebrates nature and also demonstrates the urgent need to reduce the impact of human life on the world.
Chair of the judges TV presenter Julia Bradbury said: 'Robert has been shortlisted for the prize four times now, so, it feels right that this book, which we all considered to be his best book, has finally won. He writes in a beautiful, lyrical style and this book is a claustrophobic thriller of sorts. He takes his subject, and excavates it comprehensively.'
A special commendation was given to Isabella Tree for her book Wilding, which describes the return of nature to a farm in West Sussex and offers an engaging insight into ways of turning back the clock.
" Within challenging times and facing a climate crisis, British nature writing continues to blossom"
The Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize is awarded every year to the author of the book that best reflects the ethos of renowned nature writer Alfred Wainwright to inspire readers to explore the outdoors and care for nature.
Our very own publisher Katie Bond was on the judging panel, which was chaired by TV presenter Julia Bradbury for the third year running. They were be joined by: Waterstones non-fiction buyer Clement Knox; a publisher at Unbound and joint-host of the popular podcast Blacklisted, John Mitchinson; David Lindo, otherwise known as The Urban Birder; and Anna Arnell, creative partner for agency And Rising.
Shortlisted titles for 2019:
Underland by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton)
Wilding by Isabella Tree (Picador)
Time Song by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
Our Place by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
Thinking On My Feet by Kate Humble (Aster)
Out Of The Woods by Luke Turner (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Easternmost House by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone Press)
Julia said: 'Within challenging times and facing a climate crisis, British nature writing continues to blossom. The books that my fellow judges and I have shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize demonstrate the role that nature writing can play in shining a spotlight on wider social, environmental and personal issues.'
The prize is supported by White Lion Publishing, publisher of the Wainwright Guides; Wainwright Golden Beer; the Wainwright estate; and in partnership with the National Trust.
Last year’s Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize was won by Adam Nicolson for The Seabird’s Cry.