Donald Worster Wins Scotland’s Biggest Literary Prize
Leading American academic and historian Donald Worster has been awarded the Book of the Year Award for his biography A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir at the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards. At the awards ceremony held at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival, Donald Worster received a total of £30,000, in recognition of his literary talent, and the significance of his biography, which positions John Muir as a national icon for Scotland and a figure of global significance for concern about the environment.
Donald Worster said: "John Muir, a native of Scotland and an immigrant to the United States, was one of the founders of modern environmentalism. This generous book award will, I hope, help introduce his life and achievements to modern Scots and inspire everywhere a deeper concern for saving the planet's ecology."
Restoring Scotland’s prophet of green politics and conservation to the world at a time when, arguably, it needs him most, Donald Worster has been praised for his “subtle understanding of Scottish sensibilities” by the panel of judges. Panel chair Dr Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature, Scottish Arts Council added: “A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir is beautifully written, deeply accessible and should be in every Scottish home and classroom, next to the poetry of Robert Burns. John Muir is one of history's greatest evangelists for the natural world, and his life and achievements as an architect of conservation should be understood and valued by every Scot. The revelations triggered by the book’s huge insight and relevance for today’s global society inspired intense debate amongst the judges, and its sheer ‘worldliness’ solidly secured its selection as Book of the Year.” The judging panel comprised Catherine Lockerbie, Kirsty Gunn and Pat Kane.
Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:
“The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards is a highlight in the literary calendar, showcasing the wealth of writing talent Scotland has to offer. Since 1972 the awards have successfully captured the quality and scope of literature produced in Scotland and this year is no exception. Each of the winning books offers a unique perspective of Scotland and will remain a rich and rewarding element of our cultural landscape.”
John Scott, Chairman of Scottish Mortgage said “Scottish Mortgage - as one of Scotland's leading investment trusts - is again very pleased to be supporting one of the UK’s most important book awards. The Book of the Year award plays an important part in encouraging talent and excellence across the spectrum of Scottish writing”
Donald Worster was selected winner of the Non-Fiction category, and was shortlisted alongside Fiction winner Strip the Willow by John Aberdein, the Poetry winner Tom Leonard’s Outside the Narrative, and First Book winner Sarah Gabriel’s Eating Pomegranates.
Notes to editors
- The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards recognise and reward literary excellence in literary fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction. The Awards were first introduced as the Scottish Arts Council Book Awards in 1972.
- In 1999 the Scottish Arts Council introduced the first Children’s Book Awards in Scotland for writers for children
- Recognising and rewarding literary excellence for 38 years, this year’s Awards are the last for the Scottish Arts Council before its evolution into Creative Scotland is completed in July. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust will continue to support the awards in 2011
- Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC is one of the largest investment trusts listed on the London Stock Exchange. The trust was launched as The Straits Mortgage and Trust Company Ltd in 1909 and was the first client of Edinburgh based investment management firm, Baillie Gifford, who continue to manage the trust today. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust invests on a global basis and has current net assets of over £1.7bn*. *As of 31 May 2010
Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (Oxford university Press)
A Passion for Nature is the most complete account of the great conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club ever written. It is the first to be based on Muir's full private correspondence and to meet modern scholarly standards. Yet it is also full of rich detail and personal anecdote, uncovering the complex inner life behind the legend of the solitary mountain man. It traces Muir from his boyhood in Scotland and frontier Wisconsin to his adult life in California right after the Civil War up to his death on the eve of World War I. It explores his marriage and family life, his relationship with his abusive father, his many friendships with the humble and famous (including Theodore Roosevelt and Ralph Waldo Emerson), and his role in founding the modern American conservation movement.
Inspired by Muir's passion for the wilderness, Americans created a long and stunning list of national parks and wilderness areas, Yosemite most prominent among them. Yet the book also describes a Muir who was a successful fruit-grower, a talented scientist and world-traveller, a doting father and husband, a self-made man of wealth and political influence; a man for whom mountaineering was "a pathway to revelation and worship."
For anyone wishing to more fully understand America's first great environmentalist, and the enormous influence he still exerts today, Donald Worster's biography offers a wealth of insight into the passionate nature of a man whose passion for nature remains unsurpassed.
Donald Worster is Hall Distinguished Professor of American History, University of Kansas and the author of many books, including A River Running West (OUP 2000); The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination (OUP 1993); and Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West (OUP 1993)
Issued by: Scottish Arts Council