A 16-year-old student Dara McAnulty has won the Wainwright Prize for nature writing, for his debut work, Diary of a Young Naturalist. Named after nature writer Alfred Wainwright, it is awarded to those books which instill in readers respect and love for nature.
As the youngest ever winner of a major literary prize, Dara’s book is an extraordinary portrayal of his intense connection to the natural world alongside his perspective as an autistic teenager juggling exams, friendships, and a life of campaigning. Mike Parker’s beautiful On the Red Hill was awarded highly commended in the category,” read on their website.
Prior to winning, the author was quoted by The Guardian: “I just feel disbelief because there were so many amazing books on the shortlist. It was really quite humbling because this is the first book I have ever written. Knowing my voice can be heard, as a young, autistic person, has delighted me,” he said.
“This book would be good if it was written by anyone of any age. Dara’s writing is beautiful. He’s remarkably astute and candid. We felt it was a very important book to win because it will reach young people and that is vital. So we gave it to him both because of and regardless of his age – it is beautifully written, and by the way, he’s 16. He’s obviously going to be extraordinary whatever he decides to do,” Chair of judges Julia Bradbury was quoted by saying in their report.
This prize this year also has another category pertaining to climate and global conservation. Benedict Macdonald won it for Rebirding.