Reading the Land at Shaftesbury

BOOKS on nature, the environment and landscape are now among the most popular with readers, so it’s no surprise that tickets are selling fast for Shaftesbury’s nature-inspired book festival, Reading the Land, over the weekend of 15th to 17th March, which has an impressive line-up including some of the country’s top writers in this field.

Taking place at the Grosvenor Arms, the programme includes Guy Shrubsole and Amy-Jane Beer, the 2023 winners of the prestigious James Cropper Wainwright Prize for Conservation Writing and Nature Writing respectively. Other top authors taking part include Leif Bersweden, Keggie Carew, Charles Foster, Stephen Moss, Sophie Pavelle, Anita Roy, Chris Smaje and Brett Westwood – a number of whom were Wainwright Prize nominated.

Arguably the greatest living nature writer, Richard Mabey, whose many books include Food for Free, The Cabaret of Plants, Flora Brittanica, Weeds and The Common Ground, continues his role as the festival’s patron.

The theme of the festival, Reading the Land, is a celebration of nature writing and the landscape, and encourages us to find ways to connect with the natural world. It builds on the success of the inaugural event on the same theme held in 2022.

In addition to the main talks programme, the festival features some free events for children at Shaftesbury Library and Shaftesbury Arts Centre over the weekend, including an art and craft session with acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Yuval Zommer, and a storytelling session with local folk musician and actor Tim Laycock.

There will be a series of events taking place in local primary schools in the week prior to the festival, coinciding with World Book Day, and featuring local children’s authors Angela McAllister and Hannah Shuckburgh. Shaftesbury School will also be involved, running their own writing competition, interviewing author Keggie Carew and creating a nature-themed page for the festival’s website.

For tickets and more information visit

Pictured are Guy Shrubsole and Amy-Jane Beer, winners of the 2023 James Cropper Wainwright Prize for conservation writing and nature writing, respectively.