Meadowland wins Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015
Will Ross, May 9, 2015
Warm, orange glow in the afternoon. The sigh of my feet in the frosted night grass. Wrap my coat closer, wrap myself into the ground, fold myself into the earth. As night descends I can hear the shift- less hunting of voles, shrews and mice in the hedge. Shrews do not hibernate, as they are too small to store fat reserves sufficient to see them through the winter. And spangled is the only word for this starry night of seeping cold.”
Winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015, John Lewis-Stempel’s Meadowland recalls the life of a Herefordshire farmland meadow over a year, inspiring the wonderful possibility of engaging deeper with nature near to where we live. Lewis-Stempel provides an honest and intimate account of the field as it passes from January to December, through changing bushes, grass and churning soil.
Lewis-Stempel raises and eats livestock on the Welsh border, placing him in a unique position to comment on the ebb and flow of wildlife to linked to his economy. The author is able to bring to life a variety of wild characters, populating the story with a depth and vitality that might escape the observation of the everyday onlooker.
The award celebrates the life of British nature writer, Alfred Wainwright, an accolade which surfaced some highly commendable writing in its shortlist. Thanks to the Wainwright Society, the prize has become a prestigious accolade, adding weight to the importance of observing the minute details that colour natural life.