Finding the UK’s favourite nature book

Take part in a national survey which aims to find the nation’s favourite book that captures our special relationship with the natural world.

Which nature book is a real favourite? Or maybe inspired a life-long love of wildlife? 

Land Lines is a major new research project that will look at how nature writing in this country has changed over the last 200 years, and what it might say about the world today and our connection with nature.

The pioneering project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and is being undertaken by academics from Faculty of Arts at the University.

Everyone can take part in the national survey by going to and nominating their favourite UK work on nature – along with up to 100 words about why they have chosen it.

Entry is open from 25 October to 30 November, after which an expert panel will take these suggestions and compile a shortlist of 10 popular books. Then in January, an online vote will decide the nation’s favourite piece of nature writing.

Many people would say a particular book sparked a love of the natural world or indeed changed their life, including:

Cerys Matthews, Wild Food by Roger Phillips
“We moved to Swansea when I was seven, to a house which edged onto a small copse full of rusting prams and damp mattresses. This book, my bible, turned it from a dump to a wonderland full of things to recognise, study, name, cherish and sometimes collect and eat – mushrooms, nettles, sorrel. Phillips is a generous writer, and in this case photographer too, opening the door to everyone (of all ages) to the wonders and adventures of the natural world. I’ve never tired of it.”

Other suggested nominations have come from Gillian Burke, Julia Donaldson, Wainwright Prize winning John Lewis Stempel, Miranda Krestinkoff, Virginia McKenna, Michael Morpurgo, Fiona Reynolds and Alan Titchmarsh.

Professor Graham Huggan, Land Lines research lead at the University of Leeds said: “Nature writing is probably as popular now as it has ever been. This, the first major study of its kind, will explore how our attitudes to the natural world have changed over the years.

“We’ll also be investigating how people’s feelings about nature have been influenced by their reading, and this survey will kick start a national conversation about just that.”

To mark the end of the project, an international conference on nature writing will be held in 2019.

During the research there will also be public exhibitions and workshops across the country. These will stimulate conversations around what nature writing is, why people read it, how it might change the way they think about nature, and what its role might be in these ecologically troubled times.

Out of this work, the first definitive book on modern British nature writing will be published by Cambridge University Press. This will compare nature writing across different historical periods while assessing its changing character over time.

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