Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts

Nature Writing Festival

Nature Writing Festival: The Lost Voices

PLEASE NOTE THE NATURE WRITING FESTIVAL HAS BEEN CANCELLED. NCLA presents an innovative festival restoring prominence to individuals and groups whose literary representations of the natural world have been overshadowed.

Nature Writing has never been so urgent. Writings about landscape, animals and climate interrogate how humans interact with the natural world, and influence our behaviour. But since its emergence as a genre in the late eighteenth century, nature writing has been dominated by the voice of the 'lone, enraptured male.' In this period of climate emergency, we need to hear different voices, articulating the diversity of experiences, values, and meanings attached to the natural world – and suggesting new models for the relationship between humanity and nature.

The Lost Voices festival will restore prominence to individuals and groups whose representations of the natural world have been over-shadowed by those of the white middle-class male tourist. Through readings, panel discussions, workshops, and lectures, The Lost Voices festival will showcase the voices of women writers, working-class writers, BAME writers; writers about illness, disability, childhood, sexuality and gender; and writers unveiling the historical and contemporary politics of nature-writing. The festival will also launch the new network, ‘Women In The Hills’, whose events through 2020 and 2021 will explore the factors that hinder and improve women’s access to wild environments.

The programme:

  • Lectures by Helen Mort, Rose George and Kathryn Aalto
  • Session curated by the Nan Shepherd Prize, featuring prize-winner Nina Mingya Powles, and short-listed authors JC Niala and Elspeth Wilson
  • Children’s nature-writing workshop by Piers Torday (The Last Wild trilogy)
  • Session launching the Women In The Hills research network, featuring Jessica J. Lee (editor of The Willowherb Review; author of Two Trees Make a Forest and Turning), Zakiya Mckenzie (Forestry Commission Writer-In-Residence), Harriet Fraser (poet, writer & walker), and Erland Clouston (Nan Shepherd’s literary executor; Guardian Scottish correspondent).

More sessions, talks, and readings, featuring:
Polly Atkin (Basic Nest Architecture), Karen Bell (Working-Class Environmentalism), Sarah Bell (Sensing Nature network), Kerri ní Dochartaigh (The Storm Boy), Ed Douglas (Kinder Scout: The People’s Mountain; Regions of the Heart: The Triumph and Tragedy of Alison Hargreaves), Tim Jackson (Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity), Anita Kerwin-Nye (Director of Engagement, YHA), Katrina Porteous (Edge; Two Countries), Jini Reddy (Wanderland, Wild Times), Richard Smyth (A Sweet Wild Note (2017)), Amanda Thomson (A Scots Dictionary of Nature), Samantha Walton (Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of a Nature Cure), Lisa Woollett (Rag and Bone).

Schedule and Tickets

The main festival runs from 10am to 7pm (followed by a drinks reception) on Saturday 13 June 2020, and from 10am to 4.30pm on Sunday 14 June. The weekend pass – which includes access to all talks and lectures, and to the Saturday night drinks reception – costs just £50.

'Hard Work', from Mrs Aubrey Le Blond, True Tales of Mountain Adventure (1903), p. 204.
'Hard Work', from Mrs Aubrey Le Blond, True Tales of Mountain Adventure (1903), p. 204


Children's Nature-Writing Workshop

Are you interested in the world around you? Have you ever wanted to write about nature or animals, or climate change, but have been sure how to begin? In this hour long workshop, for all abilities, award winning and bestselling author of The Last Wild trilogy, Piers Torday, will walk you through his process of capturing the natural world on the page, with tips and exercises.  Please bring one short writing extract, fiction, poetry or non fiction, on nature, which has inspired you.

Schedule and Tickets

From 3.15pm to 4.30pm on Sunday 14 June, Piers Torday will run a nature-writing workshop for children aged 8-12 years. Tickets are £5 per child. Adults chaperoning children may attend for free. Adults unaccompanied by children may not attend.

Book Cover of The Last Wild (Quercus Children's Books, 2013)
The Last Wild (Quercus Children's Books, 2013)