Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of Dara McAnulty's world, from spring to summer, autumn to winter, on his home patch, at school, in the wild and in his head.
Evocative, raw and beautifully written, this startling and special book vividly explores the natural world from the perspective of an autistic teenager coping with the uprooting of home, school, and his mental health, while pursuing his life as a conservationist and environmental activist.
In a work of power and hope, Dara recalls his sensory encounters in the wild – with blackbirds, whooper swans, red kites, hen harriers, frogs, dandelions, Irish hares and more – while drawing a moving portrait of a young activist dealing with change, and a family making their way in the world.
Dara McAnulty is a 16-year-old autistic naturalist, conservationist and activist from Northern Ireland. After writing his online blog Naturalist Dara for over three years and writing articles for many UK Wildlife NGOs, he published his debut book, Diary of a Young Naturalist which won the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing, and was longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize – the youngest ever author to do so.
Dara has featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Ulster, Springwatch, Countryfile, Homeground, BBC Bitesize, Observer, The Irish Times, the Irish Independent, Positive News and The Big Issue.
Dara is a passionate and fervent campaigner for the natural world and dedicated fundraiser, volunteer and wildlife recorder. He is the youngest ever winner of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Medal for services to conservation and nature. He is also the recipient of 10 Downing Street's 'Points of Light' and the winner of The Daily Mirror Young Animal Hero award. He lives with his family and Rosie the rescue-greyhound at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in County Down.
– Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing 2020
– Winner of the An Post Irish Book Award for Newcomer of the Year 2020
– Winner of the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards for Non-Fiction 2020
– Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2020
– Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2020
"This book is very pertinent. It’s a diary but essentially timeless. It’s about enduring, it’s about passion, beauty and connection. It’s really, really special."
– Chris Packham
"Dara’s is an extraordinary voice and vision: brave, poetic, ethical, lyrical, strong enough to have made him heard and admired from a young age."
– Robert Macfarlane
"Dara is only 16 and autistic, and is already on his way to becoming one of the most talented and passionate writers of our era."
– Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes
"A beautifully written, profoundly important classic of nature writing that will ignite a passion for the wild in every reader. A stunning achievement. I adored it."
– Lauren St John
"McAnulty’s writing glows with his deep sympathy for the natural world."
– Tim Flannery
"Feeling illuminates every page of this miraculous memoir [...] His portrait of loving parents raising three neurodivergent children on poetry, punk and puffins is profoundly moving [...] intimate, sensitive, deeply felt"