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15 April 2021

Scottish nature writing short film released for Frankfurt Book Fair

14 October 2020

Becoming Second Nature: new film on Scottish nature writing 

A new short film sees Scotland's top nature writers calling for people to 'notice' the natural world in response to the climate crisis and the Covid pandemic.

Produced by Publishing Scotland to mark the start of the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair, Second Nature is an 18-minute documentary film featuring five award-winning writers talking on the subject of nature and nature writing today: Kathleen Jamie, Jim Crumley, Chitra Ramaswamy, Roseanne Watt and Gavin Francis.

Jim Crumley, author of the BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week' The Nature of Spring, said: 'I think nature writing has a duty to address the climate crisis. All the signs are there that we are very close to some kind of tipping point, beyond which the planet as we know it, can't recover. It is the duty of a nature writer to say that as often, and as loudly and as persuasively as possible. There's nothing more important.'

Interviewed in the film, poet and author Kathleen Jamie said: 'Politics is power, it is about a power dynamic. And when we have absolute power over the furtherance of every other species on the planet, that's political. So every time we notice another species, every time we admit it into our consciousness, that has to be a political act'.

The film begins with the story of Nan Shepherd's mould-breaking twentieth century masterpiece The Living Mountain - written in the 1940s but only rediscovered by a general readership at the beginning of the 21st century - and goes on to consider the role and purpose of nature writing in Scotland today. 

Chitra Ramaswamy, former winner of the Saltire First Book of the Year Award said, 'We can no longer just sit and revel in the transcendental beauty of nature. There has to be some acknowledgement of what we've done to the world, and that produces feelings of guilt and grief and loss and sadness.'

James Crawford, writer, broadcaster and Chair of Publishing Scotland, who has written and presented the film, said: 'The subjects being approached by nature writing in Scotland today are incredibly broad and diverse. Yet all these writers share the same sense of immediacy and urgency - and awareness that "noticing" brings with it the risk, at some point in the future, of "not noticing". Of seeing something, right up until the moment that it is gone. There is a truth and an authenticity to the new wave of Scottish nature writing that is incredibly powerful'.

Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland, Marion Sinclair, said 'We are living through a golden age of nature writing, at a time when natural spaces and wilderness are under threat across the world. The film was made for us and for Scottish Books International to highlight our contribution to nature writing as part of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Our publishers, writers and photographers in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK are focusing their attention on what we have to offer the world that is distinctive and under-appreciated. The growing popularity of the genre has been very exciting to watch over the last decade and our publishers and writers are well placed to contribute to that.'



  1. The film is available here
  2. Publishing Scotland is the sector support body for the book publishing industry. Set up in 1974, and now a charity, it represents over 98% of book publishers across Scotland. The online books site, is owned and managed by Publishing Scotland.
  3. Scottish Books International works on behalf of the literature sector in Scotland and is dedicated to the international promotion of books, writers, festivals and organisations.
  4. Publishing Scotland and Scottish Books International are part-funded by Creative Scotland, the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative, distributing funding from the Scottish Government and The National Lottery.
  5. The Frankfurt Book Fair (14-18 October 2020) is the world's largest trade fair for books, based both on the number of publishing companies represented, and the number of visitors. It is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading.
  6. The books featured are - The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, published by Canongate Books; Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie, published by Sort of Books, and Antlers of Water, edited by Kathleen Jamie, published by Canongate; The Nature of Summer, by Jim Crumley, published by Saraband Books; Expecting by Chitra Ramaswamy, published by Saraband; Moder Dy by Roseanne Watt, published by Polygon/Birlinn; Island Dreams by Gavin Francis, published by Canongate; and Scotland from the Sky by James Crawford, published by Historic Environment Scotland.
  7. Nan Shepherd's The Living Mountain was republished in 2011 to great acclaim. Nan Shepherd's (1893-1981) literary achievement was recognised in 2016 when her image was featured and still continues to feature on a £5 Scottish banknote.
  8. Swift Films made the documentary.
  9. James Crawford is the chair of Publishing Scotland and is currently on our screens presenting Scotland from the Sky, BBC2.

For more information and interviews, please contact Or call 07772 848 203

Publishing Scotland,10 South St Andrew St, Edinburgh EH2 2AZ    Twitter


Press release Publishing Scotland 14 October 2020