Marchelle Farrell wins the Nan Shepherd Prize 2021
16 December 2021
The winner of the Nan
Shepherd Prize 2021 is Marchelle Farrell with
her submission 'Uprooting' which will be published by Canongate in
'Uprooting' is the story of Marchelle Farrell's journey, as a
Black Caribbean immigrant to the UK, of seeking belonging in an
English country garden. Seeking grounding in the plants around her,
Marchelle begins to turn the lens of her psychoanalytic training on
herself and what this new place seems to offer. As the seasons
change, this personal reckoning begins to find resonance with the
wider cultural tumult, from a global racial uprising, to the
ever-present effects of the climate crisis. And as these
synchronicities pull together the threads of her experience - a
tropical childhood in Trinidad and a current life in England; the
lives of both the Caribbean and British ancestors who came before;
immediate family and the wider community - she begins to weave a
new tapestry of meaning from the blossoms of the places she has
called home. Uprooting asks us to reconsider our relationships to
one another and to the living world of which we are part.
Farrell is a gardener, writer and mother and has trained and
worked as a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She said:
"I am completely blown away. What an honour, to be selected from
that shortlist! And what an opportunity, to share my little thread
of the huge web of story that connects gardens and people in the
Caribbean with gardens and people here."
Marchelle Farrell's agent Julia Silk commented: "With her innate
skill for storytelling, and intimate, elegant prose, Marchelle
brings a fresh and compelling perspective to nature writing. I'm so
thrilled that her talent has been recognised by the Nan Shepherd
Prize and the team at Canongate, and can't wait to see 'Uprooting'
out in the world."
This year's judging panel comprised writers Jessica J Lee and
Alice Vincent, Good Literary Agency associate agent Rukhsana Yasmin
and Little Toller co-founder Adrian Cooper. Ellah Wakatama,
editor-at-large at Canongate, chaired the panel.
The prize is run by Caroline Clarke, senior rights manager at
Canongate and assistant editor Megan Reid, who said:
"This year's shortlist was exceptionally strong, and the
judges had a very tough decision. But everyone who read Marchelle's
work was blown away - from the in-house Canongate readers to the
judging panel. 'Uprooting' promises to be a powerful piece of
non-fiction, one that will expand the definition of nature writing,
which is exactly what the prize aims to do. Marchelle's writing is
strong, engaging and captivating, and we're absolutely thrilled
she's won the 2021 Nan Shepherd Prize and delighted to welcome her
The Nan Shepherd Prize is a competition to find the next voice
in nature writing. It aims not only to celebrate nature writing but
provide an inclusive platform for new and emerging nature writers
from underrepresented backgrounds. The prize runs every two years.
The winner of the prize receives a book deal with Canongate -
including editorial mentoring and an advance of £10,000.
The 2019 winner was Nina Mingya Powles with Small Bodies of Water (Canongate).