Girl sitting in a field and writing in her notepad.
How do we write about the natural world and its vulnerability? Has nature writing the potential to change the relationships we developed with nature? At the three-day British Council Nature Writing Seminar we explored these questions in and about nature. ©

British Council

Nature Writing Seminar with Robert Macfarlane - Shedding a light on the literary movement

The first ever British Council Literature Seminar in Munich both celebrating and critically examined some of nature writing's aspects, forms and outcomes. Via livestream and our live tweeting, people from all over the world joined our discussions on nature writing and its potential. 

It shed a light on the literary movement and introduced prominent UK authors to the German audience for readings, workshops and discussions in the heart of Munich as well as in the Bavarian nature of Stiftung Nantesbuch. We were delighted to host UK authors Nancy Campbell, Horatio Clare, Helen MacDonald, Sarah Hall and Helen Mort at our seminar, 7-9 June 2018. They were chaired by British author Robert Macfarlane, who led our panel discussions.

"I want to thank you for the opportunity to follow the nature writing seminar online via livestream. Making the films available via YouTube is a great gift. Altogether, the whole event seemed like being planned and shaped with an immense and valuable generosity [...] – the fact that interested audiences from all over the world were able to join in via the screen underlines this." - Livestream viewer

Robert macfarlane at BritLitMunich
"Love, fear, hope, loss, belonging, de-racination, identification, alienation, care, naming, state power, childhood, conservatism, radicalism, the Anthropocene...the subjects of this new literature are hugely various, often political, and very contemporary” - Our BritLitMunich chair Robert Macfarlane explained the topic ahead of the seminar. ©

British Council

'Grief is a kind of wildness. But in the end I realised human hands are more than just purchase for hawks.' At #BritLitMunich Helen Macdonald, the author of H is for Hawk, shared her experience of writing her most well-known work at our seminar. ©

British Council

"When the last rhino horn has been ground down, we'll still have books for children about rhinos - We'll still be writing about nature." said Horatio Claire on the importance of nature writing. ©

British Council.

Nancy Campbell at BritLitMunich
'Keep going deeper. The story is already there: extraction is the reader's art. Reading in the cold, drilling through the dark.' Nancy Campbell advised  at our BritLitMunich. In our British Council Voices magazine, she is also sharing more about her experiences of writing nature. ©

British Council.

"Our political borders, our national borders, they don't take into account the world of wildlife," said Sarah Hall at #BritLitMunich. "For conservation to work properly, we need to collaborate." How can literature play a part in that collaboration? ©

British Council.

An introduction to Nature Writing by Robert Macfarlane

"British literature has been powerfully reshaped by a surge of reaction to the living world. The last two decades in the UK have seen an extraordinary resurgence of what has become popularly known as 'nature writing', but might also be called the 'literature of landscape' or 'place-writing'. Across non-fiction, fiction, poetry, drama, performance and cross-media forms, writers have turned their attentions to the complex questions of our relationships with the more-than-human world of weather, climate, land and creaturely life. 

Love, fear, hope, loss, belonging, de-racination, identification, alienation, care, naming, state power, childhood, conservatism, radicalism, the Anthropocene...the subjects of this new literature are hugely various, often political, and very contemporary. The roots of this writing, though, go back as far as the early Celtic Christian poetry of the sixth to ninth centuries AD." - Robert Macfarlane

Writing Nature workshops

Ahead of BritLitMunich, we ran 3 creative writing workshops on the topic of nature writing. Those were jointly led by the German environmental journalist Dr. Torsten Schäfer and BritLitMunich poet Helen Mort and visited by 41 people with a broad expertise ranging from climate and gender activists, sociologists, economists, prose writers and poets, business consultants and urban gardeners. 

"The seminar was challenging, inspiring and affirming - I left convinced of the importance of writing about the landscapes we live in and the changes they are undergoing. Leading workshops along with Professor Torsten Schaffer was an enjoyable, thought-provoking experience too, debating the place of urban nature writing. It was a really rewarding seminar." - Helen Mort

Nature Writing Scholarship

BriLitMunich marked the first event of our nature writing scholarship and included a creative writing workshop for our three German and three British scholarship holders. 

"Aside from making a number of wonderful friends and contacts, I learnt a huge amount not only about craft but also about what it means to be a writer. I thought that the panels were consistently engaging and informative; what a joy as well to have the authors read certain passages, such a beautifully unique experience. I’m so grateful for your allowing me to attend, without doubt it has been the highlight of my year thus far." - Fred Kelly (Scholarship holder)

External links