Caught by the River

The Wainwright Prize 2021

8th September 2021

Massive congratulations to James Rebanks and Merlin Sheldrake for their respective Wainwright UK Nature Writing Prize and Wainwright Global Conservation and Climate Change Prize wins, announced last night.

Rebanks’ English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world have been brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things are being lost. This is a book about what it means to have love and pride in a place, and how, against all the odds, it may still be possible to build a new pastoral: not a utopia, but somewhere for us all.

Sheldrake’s Entangled Life is a radical and hopeful book. He engages us in the hidden world of fungi, a miraculous web of connections, interactions and communication that changes the way we need to look at life, the planet and ourselves. The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them. Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms – and our relationships with them – are changing our understanding of how life works.

This year’s Nature Writing judging panel was chaired by TV presenter Julia Bradbury. Her fellow judges were Geoff Duffield, Wildlife Trust volunteer and former publisher; Jessica J Lee, Editor Willowherb Review; Ray Mears, TV Presenter and Author, Mark Funnell, Communications and Campaigns Director, National Trust; Patrick Neale, Bookseller Jaffe & Neale and Andrew Willan, Wealden Festival Director.

The Chair of Judges for the Global Conservation Prize was BBC Countryfile presenter, Charlotte Smith. She was joined by Adrian Phillips, Environmental Professional; Dr. Craig Bennett, CEO UK Wildlife Trust; Rachel Woolliscroft, sustainability expert; Anita Longely, Chair, Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and Nigel Roby, Community Energy Enthusiast and Strategic Advisor.

It was also announced that The Wainwright Prize 2022 is to include the launch of a third prize for children’s writing on nature and conservation. 

You can peruse (and buy from) the prize’s longlist in its entirety here, via our page.