The organisers of the Wainwright Prize have announced the 2020 winners during a virtual awards ceremony.


For the first time since it began in 2014, the competition was split into two categories – UK Nature Writing and Writing on Global Conservation.

16-year-old Dara McAnulty was announced as the winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize For UK Nature Writing, for his debut book, The Diary of a Young Naturalist.

Dara McAnulty, author of The Diary of a Young Naturalist.
Dara McAnulty, author of The Diary of a Young Naturalist.

“Our Wainwright Prize winner this year is nuanced, passionate and caring. It’s a wonderful diary that fits around Dara’s personal endeavours and family experiences, but ultimately, shaped by the nature that surrounds us all,” says Julia Bradbury, TV presenter and chair of the judging panel for the UK Nature writing category.

The Diary of a Young Naturalist is a significant nature book – made all the more so because it is Dara McAnulty’s first, completed before his 16th birthday. The judges were almost breathless from reading it and would like to call for it to be immediately listed on the national curriculum. Such is the book’s power to move and the urgency of the situation we face.”

The winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize For Writing on Global Conservation was Benedict Macdonald, for his book, Rebirding.

Benedict Macdonald, author of Rebirding
Benedict Macdonald, author of Rebirding

“As you’d expect, it considers the needs of birds, but also the future of rural communities in an interesting and engaging way,” says Charlotte Smith, BBC Countryfilepresenter and chair of the Writing on Global Conservation category.

Rebirding is an immensely readable book on complex and contentious issues. While not everyone will agree with Benedict Macdonald’s conclusions, they’ll enjoy arguing with him as they read!”

The Wainwright Prize was set up to honour Alfred Wainwright, a nature writer and creator of the beautiful guides to the Lakeland Fells.

The prize is supported by Frances Lincoln Publishers, publisher of the Wainwright Guides, the Wainwright Estate and in partnership with the National Trust.

The £5,000 prize fund will be shared and presented to the authors of the winning books, as well as framed trophies featuring artwork by Jon Tremaine.

The shortlisted books for the 2020 Wainwright Prize For UK Nature Writing:

  • On the Red Hill, by Mike Parker Cornerstone. Published Penguin Random House UK. Awarded Highly Commended.
  • The Frayed Atlantic Edge, by David Gange. Published by William Collins.
  • Dark, Salt, Clear, by Lamorna Ash. Published by Bloomsbury.
  • Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape, by Patrick Laurie. Published by Birlinn.
  • Dancing with Bees, by Brigit Strawbridge Howard, illustrated by John Walters. Published by Chelsea Green Publishing.
  • Wanderland, by Jini Reddy. Published by Bloomsbury Wildlife.

The shortlisted books for the 2020 Wainwright Prize For Writing on Global Conservation:

  • Irreplaceable, by Julian Hoffman. Published by Penguin/Hamish Hamilton. Awarded Highly Commended.
  • Life Changing, by Helen Pilcher. Published by Sigma, Bloomsbury.
  • Sitopia, by Carolyn Steel. Published by Vintage/Chatto & Windus.
  • What We Need to Do Now, by Chris Goodall. Published by Profile Books.
  • Working with Nature, by Jeremy Purseglove. Published by Profile Books.

Previous winners of the Wainwright Prize:

  • 2019 – Underland, by Robert Macfarlane
  • 2018 – The Seabird’s Cry, by Adam Nicholson
  • 2017 – Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War, by John Lewis-Stempel
  • 2016 – The Outrun, by Amy Liptrot
  • 2015 – Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field, by John Lewis-Stempel
  • 2014 – The Green Road into Trees: A Walk Through England by Hugh Thomson


Megan ShersbyEditorial and digital co-ordinator, BBC Wildlife

Naturalist and writer