Jefferies Literary Award 2019 Shortlist

The books below form the Richard Jefferies Society & White Horse Bookshop Literary Award for Nature Writing 2019 shortlist.

Each year, judges choose the book that they believe is the most outstanding work of nature writing that is accordant with the works of Richard Jefferies. For previous winners of the Jefferies Award please click here.

Richard Jefferies was noted for his writings about English rural life. His ability to convey the relationship between man and nature was something quite extraordinary.

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Jefferies Literary Award 2019 Shortlist

In The Hidden World of the Fox, Adele Brand, a qualified mammal ecologist, puts a spotlight on the elusive red fox. She shows us how versatile these vulpine creatures are, their adaptations to life in ancient woodland proving surprisingly advantageous for life in the urban jungle.

The author, having been obsessed with foxes since childhood, has numerous first-hand accounts with the species to share with us, such as raising cubs, studying their behaviour and interactions with humans, and catching them on camera in several different countries, including Poland, India, and of course England.

Incredible Journeys by David Barrie is not only on the Jefferies Literary Award 2019 shortlist; it is also the 2019 Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year.

This is a book that was four years in the making, the author carrying out research and interviewing scientists who are experts in the field of animal navigation.

The author, who is himself a sailor, reveals how animals, from bees, butterflies and birds to fish, reptiles and more, find their way, some of them travelling thousands of miles, using various stimuli, from the Milky Way’s starlight to Earth’s magnetic fields.

Jim Crumley continues his Seasons series of books with The Nature of Spring, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

In this book, Jim describes the season of revival and reinvigoration, including accounts of wild animals from badgers and foxes to sea eagles and sand martins.

The author doesn’t just paint a pretty picture with his poetic words but also refers, on several occasions, to the current crisis caused by global warming and climate change, reminding the reader that action must be taken if we are to hinder these threats.

In On the Marsh, Simon Barnes tells the reader about a marsh behind his house, a house that he and his family moved into due to the wet and wild habitat that would be, essentially, an extension of their garden, the call of a Cetti’s warbler during a viewing of the property sealing the deal.

Simon worked with the Wildlife Trust to conserve the marsh and encourage wildlife to take up residence. Chinese water deer and otters are just a couple of the surprises that turn up on their doorstep, and the marsh has provided habitat for over 100 species of bird. Not only that, the marsh serves as a place of calm and inspiration for Simon’s son, who has Down’s syndrome.

In Rebirding, Benedict Macdonald takes a look through time, from past to present, at the decline of British wildlife, from the wiping out of elephants, rhinos and more during the taming of the land, to the current collapse of insect populations due to modern-day intensive land-use practices.

The author argues that the imminent extinction of species in Britain, such as the turtle dove, cuckoo and honey bee, can be avoided and their population decline reversed if only we used our land in a different way. Ecosystems must be restored and wild habitats defragmented.

This book is a first at proposing potential solutions so that the British countryside can one day be profitable for both humans and wildlife.

Jeremy Purseglove has spent his adult life engineering projects world-wide that are more in tune with nature. In Working with Nature, he takes the reader to the frontline of conservation, whether it be on a cocoa farm in Ghana, in the desert badlands in Pakistan, or amidst the orchards of Kent.

Jeremy educates the reader about how we can harvest from nature sustainably and thereby protect nature at the same time, and he explains why this is a far better approach than extracting as much value as possible as quickly as possible.