For the first time, the Lakeland Book of the Year will be celebrating the fantastic array of writing inspired by Cumbria and the Lake District virtually, as organisers vow not to let Coronavirus halt the 36-year-old event.

68 books, all published in 2019, have been whittled down to a 24-strong longlist by judges Hunter Davies OBE, Cumbria Tourism President Eric Robson and broadcaster Fiona Armstrong. These three judges now have the unenviable task of selecting the shortlist, six category winners and overall Lakeland Book of the Year 2020 before the official announcement is made on 30 June.

Open to any book published in 2019 set in or featuring Cumbria in some way, this year’s entrants have once again highlighted the huge range of inspiration the region generates for both new and well-established authors.

“Every year I’m completely blown away by the staggering number of high-quality novels, histories, guides and poems entered” says Cumbria Tourism MD Gill Haigh, which supports and administers the annual competition. “2020 is an extra-special year for celebrating the Lakes’ literary heritage – originally the awards ceremony in June would have been a key part of Wordsworth 250 – a quarter of a millennium since the birth of Lakeland’s most noted writer. Unfortunately Coronavirus has meant that we can’t celebrate in the usual way but I’m very proud they are continuing in these difficult times. We know many people have planned breaks to Cumbria which have now been postponed or cancelled and we can’t wait to welcome tourists back as soon as it is safe to travel again. In the meantime, if anybody is looking for a good book to transport them to our county there’s a fantastic to selection from which to choose!”

Awards founder and judge Hunter Davies added “I am so pleased the annual Lakeland Book of the Year Awards is still going ahead, despite these trying times.  After all, we have managed for 36 years so far and we all hope it will go on forever – the only regional book prize in the whole of the UK.  It would have been so bitterly disappointing for those 68 authors who have submitted their books this year if the judging had not gone ahead.  For many of them, this is the first book they have ever written, working on it for many years, the culmination of years of study and passion and knowledge of a particular aspect of Cumbrian life, past or present.

“It is a shame that our grand lunch won’t take place this summer, the literary highlight of Lakeland life, but the judging will go on and their hard work will be recognised.  I don’t know about my fellow judges, Fiona and Eric, but thanks to self-isolating, I find so far I am reading the books even more attentively than usual, spinning out the pleasure.  They are my treats, my pudding, for the long days, with so little else happening.  I am lucky to have them.  And so is Cumbria… “

The awards, one of the most prestigious of their kind outside London, are kindly supported by the Cumbria Community Foundation Hunter Davies Fund, Striding Edge, the Bill Rollinson Award Association and Latitude Press Ltd. All sponsors are committed to recognising and supporting writing inspired by Cumbria’s landscape, heritage and people. Following shortlisting, the six category winners and overall 2020 Lakeland Book of the Year winner will be announced at on 30 June, with the news shared by @lakesbookawards on Twitter and Cumbria Tourism’s Facebook page. 2020 also marks a brand-new children’s poetry prize in celebration of William Wordsworth, and judged Michael McGregor, Director at The Wordsworth Trust and Ian Walker, Deputy Head at John Ruskin School.

Lakeland Book of the Year 2020 Longlist

  • Black Summer by M.W. Craven
  • Bob’s Jottings by Bob Jopling
  • The Cumberland Bard: Robert Anderson by Sue Allan
  • Cumbria at War by Ruth Mansergh
  • Embellish with Relish by Maria Whitehead
  • Grasmere: A History in 55½ Buildings by Grasmere History Group
  • Hows and Knotts: A Guide to Lakeland Views by Guy Richardson
  • I Hate the Lake District by Charlie Gere
  • Knockupworth – The Story of a Family by John Bainbridge
  • Lake District Bouldering by Greg Chapman
  • The Lake District in 101 Maps & Infographics by David Felton
  • The Lake District Survival Guide by Ian Young
  • The Magpie’s Nest by Taffy Thomas
  • Mountain Man: 446 mountains. Six months. One record-breaking adventure by James Forrest
  • My Dad’s Army: The White Gurkhas by Ian Wilson
  • Out of the Deep by Ruth Sutton
  • A Pennington Pepys (Extracts from The Commonplace & Diaries of William Fleming) by John Graeme Livingstone
  • A Peopled Landscape by Stephen Matthews
  • Rose by Sally Dalglish
  • Secrets of the Flock by J.B. Browne
  • Slightly Perfect by John Cunliffe
  • Two Days in May by David Clemson
  • The Understanding by Roger Dobson
  • Who Was Ann Gregg? By David Cooper-Holmes

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