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Stirling writer’s book could be named nation’s nature favourite

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A University of Stirling professor of poetry’s celebration of nature has been shortlisted for a prestigious national book accolade.

Professor Kathleen Jamie

Image of Professor Kathleen Jamie.

Kathleen Jamie’s work, ‘Findings’, is among 10 pieces in the running to be named as the UK’s favourite book about the natural world. The public poll is part of the two-year ‘Land Lines’ research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Dr Pippa Marland, of the Land Lines research team, said: “What is abundantly clear is the importance of these books to their readers.

“We have been touched by the eloquence and enthusiasm with which people have accounted for their choices, often describing life-changing childhood encounters with these works, and by their evident passion and concern for the natural world.”

After the campaign was launched on BBC’s Autumnwatch and in BBC Wildlife Magazine in October 2017, judges received 770 nominations from the public. The list was whittled down by a panel of experts comprising: Mike Collins, of the AHRC; Miriam Darlington, nature writer and lecturer at the University of Plymouth; Naomi Fuller, of Avon Wildlife Trust; Ben Hoare, Features Editor at BBC Wildlife Magazine; and Professor Graham Huggan, of the University of Leeds.

Wordsmith

Commenting on Professor Jamie’s work, the judges said: “Kathleen Jamie’s writing is exquisite and exact, beautiful and austere.

“She quests for the truth, adjusting the way she looks at things repeatedly until she finds the right words. She’s an acute observer, a wordsmith."

Ben Hoare, Features Editor at BBC Wildlife Magazine, said: “This fabulous shortlist reflects the life-affirming, life-changing power of great writing about the natural world.

“The 10 books include poetry, memoir, explorations of local place, fiction and writing for children, reflecting the phenomenal breadth and beauty of Britain’s nature writing tradition. Some of the books are very well-known, others less so, but all deserve to be read and re-read.”

Other shortlisted works include:

  • The Peregrine, by JA Baker
  • Selected Poems, by John Clare
  • Common Ground, by Rob Cowen
  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Lost Words, by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
  • Fingers in the Sparkle Jar, by Chris Packham
  • The Living Mountain, by Nan Shepherd
  • The Natural History of Selborne, by Gilbert White
  • Tarka the Otter, by Henry Williamson

The poll opened on 4 January and will close at midnight on 25 January. You can champion your favourite book from the list on social media using the hashtag #favnaturebook, and visit the AHRC web page to vote.

‘Findings’ is published in the UK by Sort Of Books and in the USA by Graywolf Press. Professor Jamie's work ‘Sightlines’ was awarded both the prestigious John Burroughs Medal and the Orion Award, while her work ‘The Bonniest Companie’ was named Saltire Scottish Book of the Year 2016.

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