Fermanagh native Dara McAnulty (16) is the youngest ever winner of a major literary award, winning the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing for his first book, ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’.

The Wainwright Prize is a literary award that was created in memory of Alfred Wainwright, whose pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells are still available in lovingly reproduced form today.

Dara was announced as the winner of the prestigious prize at a virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday, September 8.

‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ chronicles the turning of the then 15-year-old’s world and breaks the mould of modern nature writing.

Dara’s book is a series of diary entries made across 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.

Creating vivid pictures through his prose, Dara gives the reader an intense insight into his love of the outdoors, nature and how it and his writing are both intertwined with his autism.


In a video posted to his Twitter page, Dara commented: “I’m stunned, honoured and deeply humbled that ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ is the 2020 Wainwright Prize winner for UK Nature Writer.

“To follow in the footsteps of the magnificent Rob Macfarlane and to have shared this incredible shortlist [with] Lamorna, David, Patrick, Mike, Jini and of course Bridget who I have known on Twitter since 2016, your writing is both profound and explores the best of humans and of nature.”

He continued: “It is an astounding moment, not just for me but for young people, young writers, young nature lovers. This tells our community that our voices matter, our ideas are worthy, our stories are captivating.”

Dara went on to thank his publisher, Little Toller, his editor, the judges of the Wainwright Prize and many others, including his family.

He said: “It is astonishing and tremendous and I’m going to use the prize money to attempt to enhance people’s lives.

“I’m going to put it into my eco-group and to try and make young writers’ lives easier.

“I’d like to say a massive thank-you for allowing me to do this, because when young autistic people are nurtured and accepted, miraculous things can happen and this is certainly one of them.”