Article published on August 4, 2017.
After reviewing the impressive longlist, announced on 2nd June, which then turned into a very strong shortlist on 27th June, we are delighted to now share the news that the winner of this year’s Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize is…Where Poppies Blow by John Lewis-Stempel.
As the world marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele this week, Where Poppies Blow offers a fresh and unique take on the experiences of British soldiers in the First World War.
The announcement and presentation of the award of £5000 was made by prize judge Matt Baker at the National Trust Theatre at BBC Countryfile Live in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, at the end of a public event celebrating nature writing and the Wainwright Prize shortlist.
Where Poppies Blow is the story of the British soldiers of the Great War and their relationship with the animals and plants around them. John-Lewis Stempel suggests that this relationship was of profound importance, because it goes a long way to explaining why the soldiers fought, and how they found the will to go on. Above all, nature healed, and despite the bullets and blood it inspired men to endure. Including poems, extracts from letters, field notes and diary entries, Where Poppies Blow provides an incredibly vivid picture of life on the Western Front as seen through the relationship between man and nature.
Chair of Judges Julia Bradbury said: “Where Poppies Blow is destined to be a modern classic. An extraordinary book about the healing power and resilience of nature in the darkest of times. Beautifully written and profoundly moving it is a reminder of the atrocities of war but John Lewis-Stempel cleverly weaves in the story of the animals and wildlife that survive, die and thrive alongside the men and women who lost their lives.”
Where Poppies Blow brings together John Lewis-Stempel’s two loves, nature and military history, and provides a new and vital study of the soldiers’ experience of the First World War. Testament to his position as one of the UK’s greatest nature writers, this is the second time John has won the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Meadowland, his study of a field in Herefordshire, won in 2015, and he had two books on this year’s shortlist.
Bookshops and libraries are invited to enter the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Display Competition. Tweet an image of your Wainwright Shortlist or Winner display before 31 August. The bookshop or library that puts on the winning display will win 10 National Trust day passes and 24 bottles of Wainwright Golden Beer. Full details and terms and conditions here.
Find out more at wainwrightprize.com
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