If, like us, you love the glorious British countryside and its abundance of wildlife and sport, we hope you’ll be inspired to enter The Field Nature Writing Competition kindly sponsored by Swarovski Optik. We’re inviting enthusiasts young and old (there are categories for adults and those aged 17 and under) to write on our green and pleasant land, its fur, feather and fin and their ‘firsts’. For more details on how to enter and the prizes on offer to the winning entries, read on but don’t dally: entries close on 16th May 2023.
To celebrate 170 years of The Field delivering the best writing on nature and fieldsports, we search for talented new voices to join the firmament.
If I look to the right while at my desk there are shelves upon shelves of books, read and unread. There are classics (Peter Scott’s Morning Flight), favourites (Simon Blow’s Fields Elysian), treatises on hunting, shooting, tweed and English history. There is fishing, stalking and Scottish dancing; gunmaking, horse racing and botany. Some Hemingway, Mitford and a well-thumbed murder mystery.
Books are a smorgasbord; they make up our world like a slightly dysfunctional family, but together they form an essential backdrop. What rarely finds its place on my shelves is what one might traditionally call nature writing, much of which is a little too mawkish and a little too twee. I once threw a book on geese across the room, so frustrating I found its inability to connect with the real nature of nature. This writing competition is for true nature writers. Those with a passion for the countryside and the flora and fauna herein. The Field has long celebrated the best of those writers. The key to nature writing, as I see it, is to understand it in all its visceral tooth and claw, and embrace it anyway.
Alexandra Henton, Editor
The judging panel
The Editor of The Field is always surrounded by books, when not in the field. She has an eye for great writing and literary flair, and brings it alive in print. “I have the privilege of commissioning work from great writers past and present, and understand the power that well-written prose holds. Laugh, cry, nod or throw it across the room in anger, it all makes a difference.” BIO LINK
Sir Johnny Scott is a much-published author, regular Field contributor and renowned countryman. “I am delighted and honoured to be a judge for The Field’s nature writing competition. I believe many people have the ability to write evocatively but have lacked the opportunity or motive. It helps if the subject is one they feel passionately about, and nature is the perfect choice.”
Guy Adams writes features for the Daily Mail. He describes himself as a poor horseman, an average shot and a rarely successful fisherman who lives in Monmouthshire and spends more time than strictly necessary chasing Welsh partridges, Cumbrian grouse, Hebridean woodcock, chalkstream trout and any grey squirrel stupid enough to winter on his drey-poking team’s patch.
Ray Mears is a woodsman, instructor and television presenter and has become recognised throughout the world as the leading authority on the subject of bushcraft. Since first appearing on our screens in 1994, he has researched and presented more than 20 series and published 13 books specialising in nature, survival training and wilderness travel.
How to enter
Write between 800 and 1,000 words on one of three topics:
- A green and pleasant land?
- Fur, feather & fin
- My first …
- Email entries to field.secretary@ futurenet.com with the subject line ‘Nature writing competition’ by 16 May 2023, stating clearly the topic and category (18 and over or 17 and under).
- All submissions must be in English, in a clear font between size 12 and 14. Entrants may submit a maximum of three entries on any of the three topics. We will not accept handwritten, scanned or faxed entries, those of more than 1,000 words, emailed after the closing date or that have been published elsewhere. Those who have previously been paid for a submission to The Field may not enter.
- Entries must be non-fiction and written in English.
- Entrants cannot have written for The Field before.
- The entry must not have been previously published.
- All entries must be typed, not handwritten, faxed or scanned.
- Any entries outside the word limit will not be considered.
- Applicants may enter a maximum of three pieces.
- The entry must not already have won another competition or nature writing competition.
- The winner of the 18 and over category will receive £750 plus a pair of CL Companion 8×30 binoculars (worth £1,110) and an invitation to lunch at The Game Fair, with the Editor, on Friday, 28 July 2023, including an entry ticket to the event.
- The runner-up will receive a prize of £250.
- The winner of the 17 and under category will receive £50 worth of book tokens and a Field goody bag.
- Winning submissions will be published in The Field (at the Editor’s discretion).
ABOUT SWAROVSKI OPTIK
Since its foundation in 1949, Swarovski Optik has become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-precision, long-range optical instruments for hunters, birders and nature enthusiasts.