Press & Publicity

Dara’s Clippings

9 th September 2020

“NI schoolboy Dara McAnulty ‘stunned’ after literary prize win”

Aged 12, Dara began to write a nature blog. The following year he started writing his debut book, a diary which chronicles a year of his life from spring 2018 to spring 2019. As well as showcasing his love and observations of nature, the diary is also a personal journal – dealing with family life, changing schools, bullying and his experience of autism.

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By Lauren Harte

9 th September 2020

“‘Miraculous things can happen,’ says autistic pupil who dazzled judges”

In his book, Dara recounts his life as he and his family move across Northern Ireland, transporting him away from his beloved forest, called Big Dog, near his previous home in Co Fermanagh, and the added challenges of changing schools and dealing with bullying. The book evolved from his wildlife blog, Young Fermanagh Naturalist, which he began when he was 12, charting how he finds peace in his connection with nature, diarised from spring equinox to spring equinox, from his 14th to 15th birthday.

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9 September 2020

“A school boy from Northern Ireland has won a major UK literary prize.”

Dara McAnulty, from Castlewellan, was awarded the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing for his first book – Diary of a Young Naturalist. The 16-year-old, who appeared on the BBC NI series The Chronicles Of Erne, said winning the award was an “astounding moment” for all young writers and nature lovers.

Read the full review

by Mark Chandler
8 September 2020

“McAnulty makes history with Wainwright Prize win”

Teenage author Dara McAnulty has become what is reckoned to be the youngest ever winner of a major literary award after scooping the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing with Diary of a Young Naturalist (Little Toller). The 16-year-old’s victory was announced at a virtual awards ceremony on 8th September, with judges calling for the book to be added to the National Curriculum.

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By Jackie Long

8th September 2020

“Prize-winning teenage author Dara McAnulty: ‘I want to see young people writing about nature’”

Autistic teenager Dara McAnulty is the youngest ever winner of a major literary prize. He won the Wainwright Prize about an hour ago for his moving and heartfelt chronicle, reflecting on nature and the world’s changing biosphere.

Watch Dara on Channel 4 News

By Peter Stanford

8th September 2020

“Meet Dara McAnulty, the 16-year-old naturalist set to steal Greta Thunberg’s crown”

The youngest ever winner of the Wainwright Prize for nature writing, Dara McAnulty found nature offered an escape from school bullies. Somewhere in Northern Ireland is a primary school teacher who told Dara McAnulty’s parents that their son would “never be able to string a sentence together”. If it was you, you can be forgiven for blushing because evening, Dara, aged 16, has become the UK’s youngest-ever winner of a major literature prize….

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By Freya McClements

8th September 2020

“Co Down teenager Dara McAnulty has won the Wainwright Prize for nature writing for his first book, Diary of a Young Naturalist.”

In his acceptance speech, he said that he was “stunned, humbled and deeply honoured” to have received the award, and that “for young people, young writers, young nature-lovers, this tells our community that our voices matter, our ideas [are] worthy, our stories captivating.

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By Sian Cain

8th September 2020

“Dara McAnulty, a 16-year-old secondary-school student from Northern Ireland, has seen off competition from established writers to win the Wainwright prize for nature writing, for his debut Diary of a Young Naturalist.”

Chair of judges Julia Bradbury said the panel was unanimous in selecting Diary of a Young Naturalist, and called for it to be added to the national curriculum, “such is the book’s power to move and the urgency of the situation we face”.

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by Mark Chandler
30 July 2020

“Teenage conservationist Dara McAnulty and author Jini Reddy are among the writers shortlisted for this year’s Wainwright Prize for UK nature writing”

Now in its seventh year, the prize is awarded annually to the book which most successfully inspires readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world. McAnulty makes the list for his Diary of a Young Naturalist (Little Toller).


Spanish Vogue

August 2020

by Ciaran Flaherty
7 July 2020

“Fermanagh native, Dara McAnulty weaves a wonderful web of words in his first book ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ that it is impossible not to be drawn into his world.”

Dara’s book is a series of diary entries over a year when he and his family moved from County Fermanagh to County Down and a new life, from the western edge of Northern Ireland to the eastern precipice.

Read the full review

by Hannah Stephenson
4 July 2020

“There’s been a buzz around the teenager’s debut book, Diary Of A Young Naturalist, charting his encounters with wildlife and nature which act as an antidote to his struggles with everyday life…”

The Irish teenager has been hailed a bright new voice, praised by conservationist Chris Packham, who has become his friend since McAnulty appeared on Springwatch two years ago, helping Packham with a ‘bioblitz’ to audit the country’s wildlife.

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by Leaf Arbuthnot
3 July 2020

“The BRILLIANT book: He’s a natural talent! A 16-year-old activist’s moving and lyrical chronicles of the wilds of Northern Ireland and living with autism”

This book chronicles the turning of a year for this teenage nature-lover. From his home patch in Northern Ireland, the 16-year-old’s diary entries tell of his intense connection to the natural world, his experiences as a young person with autism, and juggling his teenage life with his work as a conservationist and activist. It’s hard to believe it is written by someone so young – watch this space..

Watch the full review

By Rachel Clarke

27 June 2020

“Under lockdown, we may have lived with banned birthday parties, romantic dinners, and shopping sprees, but nature defies quarantine and will not be cancelled.”

This is writing at its wild and unruly best; McAnulty’s prose is shot through with the imagination of a poet. His sentences race, roar, and overflow with joy as he describes caterpillars “moving like slow motion accordions”, a goshawk that “looks like an autumn forest rolled in the first snows of winter”, and a wood anemone “exposed to the air like a forgotten spell”. Gorgeous, unforgettable images.

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23rd June 2020

Dara’s intensely personal experiences serve to demonstrate some of the issues with which our wider communities are engaging, in particular the disconnection from nature that is now part of so many of our lives and the psychological and physical manifestations that causes.

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By Freya McClements

23rd June 2020

When Dara McAnulty talks about the natural world, he comes alive. His arms fill the screen as he describes his most memorable experience of recent weeks – a chance encounter with a pair of red kites.

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By Brendan Daly

21st June 2020

For Dara McAnulty, a passionate conservationist, the natural world provides the meaning and emotion that can sometimes be missing in human relationships.

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By Charlotte Moore

13 Jun 2020

“an impassioned and original plea for protection for ‘our delicate and changing biosphere’.”

When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person, as the useful saying goes. Having autism doesn’t automatically result in this close bond, but it often does involve an obsession, or passion, of unusual strength and depth. Dara, whose name means ‘oak, wise, fruitful’, has done a public service in revealing his autistic passion to us. And Little Toller Books are to be congratulated on having the wisdom to publish this lovely and remarkable book.

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by Alex Preston

7 Jun 2020

“There are echoes of the great WH Hudson in an autistic teenager’s intimate reflections on the complex pleasures of immersion in nature”

McAnulty is fiercely attuned to his own moods, and at a time when we’re increasingly aware of the health benefits of the outdoors, his ability to medicate with nature strikes a powerful chord: “my head is pretty hectic most of the time, and watching daphnia, beetles, pond skaters and dragonfly nymphs is a medicine for this overactive brain”. A few hours reading this intimate, sensitive, deeply felt memoir had the same effect on me, lifting my spirits and giving me a great deal of hope for the future, simply that young people like Dara McAnulty are alive and writing in the world.

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By Hilary A White

6th June 2020

“Teenage Naturalist Dara McAnulty’s book is almost as notable for what it says about the human world as the wild.”

Dara McAnulty is a nature-mad teenager from Ulster who has become another powerful and celebrated voice in the youth environmentalism movement. He was meant to release this eagerly awaited debut memoir into a world continuing to blindly swat nature out of its way in the hope that it could move readers and make a difference. As active in eco-campaigning as he is speaking out about autism awareness (his mother and siblings also have the condition), McAnulty was lined up to be one of the biggest publishing talking points of the year and a sell-out prospect for any festival that could get him.

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By Steven Carroll

29th May 2020

“Divided into the four seasons, his diary covers everyday events under the panoply of the eternal natural world. All things considered – he’s 16 – a brilliant achievement.”

One of Dara McAnulty’s teachers in Northern Ireland, where his family lives, once told his mother that her son would never be able to string a sentence together let alone a paragraph. Well, the young naturalist has written a book – and it’s captivating.

Read the full review

The Big Issue

21st May 2020

The possibilities and wonder of lockdown wildness by Dara McAnulty

By Patrick Barkham

6th June 2020

“Dara McAnulty is being hailed by the likes of Robert Macfarlane and Chris Packham as a bright new voice. He talks about life with autism and finding peace in the wilds of Northern Ireland”

There is a genuine buzz around his debut, a combination of nature book and memoir, a warm portrait of a close-knit family and a coming-of-age story. Robert Macfarlane has hailed his “extraordinary voice and vision”; Chris Packham has become a friend; Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes, called him “inspiring”. The teenager’s environmental activism has led to comparisons with Greta Thunberg.

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by Amanda Bell
19 May 2020

“Reading this marvellous diary leaves me with the impression that whatever the future holds, with young people like McAnulty coming to the fore it will be in safer hands”

Is it ageist to expect a callow book from a young author? Any such expectations will be confounded by this wise, lyrical, and well-researched book. And why will this diary transcend the current crisis? McAnulty’s way of experiencing the world, his candid enthusiasm, his powers of observation, his passion for nature – all are being rediscovered by a world population forced to stop short and take stock. As soon as Covid-19 restrictions were announced in Ireland, people swarmed to the parks, beaches, woods and mountains in such numbers that social distancing became impossible. We know instinctively where solace is to be found.

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By Christopher Hart
28 May 2020

“Like reading William Blake, or Ted Hughes, it really is a strange and magical experience”

I’m tempted to say there’s something ‘shamanistic’ about the way he sees the natural world, if it didn’t risk sounding a bit pseudo. But I can’t help thinking it all the same. There really is something of that old American Indian ‘Brother Wolf, Sister Moon’ sensibility here: a feeling of magical kinship with other animals and plants and natural phenomena, although he also possesses a great store of detailed scientific knowledge, too. This is no mere dreamer; and, like the American Indians, he’s no sentimentalist about nature either.

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by Caroline Sanderson

6 Mar 2020

“the fanfare is wholly justified: this is an astonishingly assured book for one so young”

“I was diagnosed with autism aged five… By age seven I knew I was very different… Nature became so much more than an escape, it became a life support system.” At 15, Dara McAnulty from Northern Ireland is already a star of the conservation movement, with Chris Packham and Robert Macfarlane among his many fans. Creator of a blog entitled “Naturalist Dara”, he received an Unsprung Hero Award from BBC’s “Springwatch” in 2017; and was crowned “Animal Hero of the Year” by the Daily Mirror in 2018. In 2019 he became a Young Ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute and was the youngest ever recipient of the RSPB Medal. Not surprisingly, there is already a great deal of fanfare surrounding this, his first book which will be BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week”, with appearances for Dara already booked at the Hay, Cambridge, Cheltenham and Edinburgh festivals. And the fanfare is wholly justified: this is an astonishingly assured book for one so young. Charting a year in his life from spring to winter, it beautifully and candidly conveys his intense connection to the natural world, from the perspective of a teenager juggling exams, family and friendship alongside his campaigning. He smashes stereotypes about autism, alongside gorgeous observations of everything from dandelions and wagtails to goshawks and horseflies. May it be a bestseller, not only for the extraordinary Dara, but for Little Toller Books, long one of my favourite indie publishers.  Read the full review

Scouts Magazine

Summer 2020

Like the sun coming out by Aimee-lee Abraham

Eden Magazine

Issue 45 | 2020