Professor’s tale of bumblebees nominated for top book prize

Professor Dave Goulson

A Sussex biologist’s bestselling book that combines tales of a childhood passion for wildlife with deep insights into the crucial importance of the bumblebee has been nominated for a top prize.

Professor Goulson’s book A Sting in the Tale is among 18 nominations for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the UK’s premier prize for non-fiction books. Other nominees on the longlist include the historian and TV presenter Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews and Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher.

The winner of the 2013 prize will be announced on 4 November, following the shortlist announcement in 30 September. The winner will receive a prize of £20,000.

In his book, Professor Goulson describes what drove him in his quest to reinstate one of the nationally extinct species – the short-haired bumblebee, once commonly found in the marshes of Kent and now found only in New Zealand.

One of the UK’s most respected conservationists and the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Professor Goulson is conducting research at the University of Sussex into the impacts neonicotinoid pesticides have on bees and how to make farms more bee and wildlife-friendly. His work embraces both fundamental research and public engagement, to ensure that the bumblebee is better understood and that it remains a part of the British wildlife landscape.

Professor Goulson’s research interests are underscored by the fact that in the past 70 years British bumblebee populations have crashed. In that time two species have become nationally extinct and several other of the 27 species found in Britain are suffering dramatic declines.

Professor Goulson says: “I’m absolutely delighted to be nominated for this prestigious prize. It is great that there is such interest in a book on bumblebees – hopefully it will inspire people to pay a bit more attention to the little creatures that help to make the world go round.”

In May this year, A Sting in the Tale was serialised as Book of the Week on Radio 4.

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Last updated: Friday, 6 September 2013