The Lost Voices

Helen Mort

The Lost Voices: Festival of Nature-Writing and the Outdoors – CANCELLED

Launching the Women In The Hills Research Network

Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 June 2020, Frederick Douglass Building, Newcastle University


Nina Mingya Powles

Nature Writing has never been so urgent. Writings about landscape, animals and climate, and descriptions of sport, science, adventure, and outdoor leisure, all interrogate how humans interact with the natural world, and influence our behaviour. But since its emergence as a genre in the late eighteenth century, writing about nature and the outdoors has arguably been dominated by the voice of the ‘lone, enraptured male’. In this period of climate emergency, we need to hear different voices, articulating the diversity of experiences, values, and meanings attached to the natural world – and suggesting new models for the relationship between humanity and nature.

Tim Jackson

The Lost Voices festival will restore prominence to individuals and groups whose representations of the natural world have been over-shadowed by those of the white middle-class male tourist. Through readings, panel discussions, workshops, and lectures, The Lost Voices festival will showcase the voices of women writers, working-class writers, BAME writers; writers about illness, disability, childhood, sexuality and gender; and writers unveiling the historical and contemporary politics of nature-writing. The festival will also launch the new AHRC network, ‘Women In The Hills’, whose events through 2020 and 2021 will explore the factors that hinder and improve women’s access to wild environments. 

The programme:

Rose George

Lectures by Helen Mort, Rose George and Kathryn Aalto

Session curated by the Nan Shepherd Prize, featuring prize-winner Nina Mingya Powles, and short-listed authors JC Niala and Elspeth Wilson

Children’s nature-writing workshop by Piers Torday (The Last Wild trilogy)

Session launching the Women In The Hills research network, featuring Jessica J. Lee (editor of The Willowherb Review; author of Two Trees Make a Forest and Turning), Zakiya Mckenzie (Forestry Commission Writer-In-Residence), Harriet Fraser (poet, writer & walker), and Erlend Clouston (Nan Shepherd’s literary executor; Guardian Scottish correspondent).

More sessions, talks, and readings, featuring:

Amanda Thomson

Polly Atkin (Basic Nest Architecture), Karen Bell (Working-Class Environmentalism), Sarah Bell (Sensing Nature network), Kerri ní Dochartaigh (The Storm Boy), Ed Douglas (Kinder Scout: The People’s Mountain; Regions of the Heart: The Triumph and Tragedy of Alison Hargreaves), Tim Jackson (Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity), Anita Kerwin-Nye (Director of Engagement, YHA), Katrina Porteous (Edge; Two Countries), Jini Reddy (Wanderland, Wild Times), Richard Smyth (A Sweet Wild Note (2017)), Amanda Thomson (A Scots Dictionary of Nature), Samantha Walton (Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of a Nature Cure), Lisa Woollett (Rag and Bone).

Schedule and Tickets

The main festival runs from 10am to 7pm (followed by a drinks reception) on Saturday 13 June 2020, and from 10am to 3.15pm on Sunday 14 June. The weekend pass – which includes access to all talks and lectures, and to the Saturday night drinks reception – costs just £50, and can be booked here.

From 3.30pm to 4.30pm on Sunday 14 June, Piers Torday will run a nature-writing workshop for children aged 8-12 years. Tickets are £5 per child. Adults chaperoning children may attend for free. Adults unaccompanied by children may not attend. Please book here. More details about the children’s workshop:

Piers Torday

“Are you interested in the world around you? Have you ever wanted to write about nature or animals, or climate change, but have been sure how to begin? In this hour long workshop, for all abilities, award winning and bestselling author of The Last Wild trilogy, Piers Torday, will walk you through his process of capturing the natural world on the page, with tips and exercises.  Please bring one short writing extract, fiction, poetry or non fiction, on nature, which has inspired you.