West Berks nature writer on Richard Jefferies Award shortlist for debut book
It has just been announced that Inkpen nature writer Nicola Chester's first book On Gallows Down has been shortlisted for the Richard Jefferies Award.
The award of £1,000 is given to the author/s of the book considered by the judging panel to be the most outstanding nature writing published in a given year. It is given by The Richard Jefferies Society and sponsored by Marlborough's independent White Horse Bookshop to reflect the heritage, content and spirit of Jefferies’ countryside books. The Richard Jefferies Society describes Jefferies (1848-1887) as "the purest and most sensitive nature writer produced by a country that has prided itself on the strength of its nature tradition. He died prematurely of tuberculosis, aged 38, yet produced an astonishingly rich and varied body of work".
Nicola Chester is an award-winning nature writer from Inkpen whose first book On Gallows Down was published in October by Chelsea Green Publishing. She responded to news of the shortlist with "Thrilled beyond to be on the shortlist, among such fine books! Richard Jefferies has long been a companion of mine in many ways; his books, his hills and his ways. This means so much!"
The book is filled with gentle protest and hope, which is neatly nestled within familiar landmarks such as Watership Down and the Highclere estate. It begins with the rewilding of Greenham Common and reflection on the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, and then moves to the Newbury Bypass protest, and through other environmental battles along the way, loosely charting Nicola’s children growing up. It is about the fierce desire to protect the nature and landscape that Nicola loves. "It's about family, rural working class life, writing, reading and influencing what you do not own," she said.
Nicola who is a librarian at John O' Gaunt School, Hungerford, is the writer of NWN's nature notes column. She won BBC Wildlife Magazine’s Nature Writer of the Year Award in 2003 for a piece about Greenham Common and is a Country Diarist for The Guardian and writes for BBC Countryfile Magazine, the RSPB’s Nature’s Home and BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Chelsea Green Publishing took to social media to celebrate the news of the shortlisting: "What a kick off to the weekend! We're so incredibly delighted and proud to see On Gallows Down by the talented @nicolawriting on the shortlist for the @RJefferiesSoc for 2021"
@newburytoday Emma Cole spoke to Nicola last year about her debut book for Out&About - "Nature has played an important role in Nicola’s from a young age. As a child, she moved around a lot with her parents, but always within the areas of North Hampshire and West Berkshire. As soon as the family arrived in a new place, her mum would take them down the footpaths with the dogs to explore their new home and these early experiences with nature continue to influence her." You can read the full interview here https://bit.ly/33gKMl4