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What is Nature Writing?

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Home / Our Australian nature / 2017 Nature Writing Prize winner announced

2017 Nature Writing Prize winner announced

Sophie Cunningham has been announced as the winner of The Nature Conservancy’s fourth biennial Nature Writing Prize.

Sophie received a $5,000 prize for her essay Biyala Stories, with a multimedia version published online at .

Read media release

You can read the shortlisted and highly recommended essays here:

Highly commended essay:

  • Wittenoom by Kelley Mether

Shortlisted essays:

  • Heard Island is a Place by Erica Nathan
  • Grassland by Tanya Massy
  • On Time, Myth and Consequence by Georgina Woods


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What is Nature Writing?


What is Nature Writing?

Definition and Examples

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Nature Writing Used the Environment As a Major Subject.
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Richard Nordquist
Updated April 15, 2017

Nature writing is a form of creative nonfiction in which the natural environment (or a narrator ‘s encounter with the natural environment) serves as the dominant subject.

“In critical practice,” says Michael P. Branch, “the term ‘nature writing’ has usually been reserved for a brand of nature representation that is deemed literary, written in the speculative personal voice , and presented in the form of the nonfiction essay .

Such nature writing is frequently pastoral or romantic in its philosophical assumptions, tends to be modern or even ecological in its sensibility, and is often in service to an explicit or implicit preservationist agenda” (“Before Nature Writing,” in Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism, ed. by K. Armbruster and K.R. Wallace, 2001).

Examples of Nature Writing:

  • At the Turn of the Year, by William Sharp
  • The Battle of the Ants, by Henry David Thoreau
  • Hours of Spring, by Richard Jefferies
  • The House-Martin, by Gilbert White
  • In Mammoth Cave, by John Burroughs
  • An Island Garden, by Celia Thaxter
  • January in the Sussex Woods, by Richard Jefferies
  • The Land of Little Rain, by Mary Austin
  • Migration, by Barry Lopez
  • The Passenger Pigeon, by John James Audubon
  • Rural Hours, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
  • Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, by Henry David Thoreau


  • “Gilbert White established the pastoral dimension of nature writing in the late 18th century and remains the patron saint of English nature writing. Henry David Thoreau was an equally crucial figure in mid-19th century America . . ..

    “The second half of the 19th century saw the origins of what we today call the environmental movement. Two of its most influential American voices were John Muir and John Burroughs , literary sons of Thoreau, though hardly twins. . . .

    “In the early 20th century the activist voice and prophetic anger of nature writers who saw, in Muir’s words, that ‘the money changers were in the temple’ continued to grow. Building upon the principles of scientific ecology that were being developed in the 1930s and 1940s, Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold sought to create a literature in which appreciation of nature’s wholeness would lead to ethical principles and social programs.

    “Today, nature writing in America flourishes as never before. Nonfiction may well be the most vital form of current American literature, and a notable proportion of the best writers of nonfiction practice nature writing.”
    (J. Elder and R. Finch, Introduction, The Norton Book of Nature Writing. Norton, 2002)

    “Human Writing . . . in Nature”


    • “By cordoning nature off as something separate from ourselves and by writing about it that way, we kill both the  genre and a part of ourselves. The best writing in this genre is not really ‘nature writing’ anyway but human writing that just happens to take place in nature. And the reason we are still talking about [Thoreau’s] Walden 150 years later is as much for the personal story as the pastoral one: a single human being, wrestling mightily with himself, trying to figure out how best to live during his brief time on earth, and, not least of all, a human being who has the nerve, talent, and raw ambition to put that wrestling match on display on the printed page. The human spilling over into the wild, the wild informing the human; the two always intermingling. There’s something to celebrate.” (David Gessner, “Sick of Nature.” The Boston Globe, Aug. 1, 2004)

      Confessions of a Nature Writer

      • “I do not believe that the solution to the world’s ills is a return to some previous age of mankind. But I do doubt that any solution is possible unless we think of ourselves in the context of living nature

        “Perhaps that suggests an answer to the question what a ‘nature writer’ is. He is not a sentimentalist who says that ‘nature never did betray the heart that loved her.’ Neither is he simply a scientist classifying animals or reporting on the behavior of birds just because certain facts can be ascertained. He is a writer whose subject is the natural context of human life, a man who tries to communicate his observations and his thoughts in the presence of nature as part of his attempt to make himself more aware of that context. ‘Nature writing’ is nothing really new. It has always existed in literature. But it has tended in the course of the last century to become specialized partly because so much writing that is not specifically ‘nature writing’ does not present the natural context at all; because so many novels and so many treatises describe man as an economic unit, a political unit, or as a member of some social class but not as a living creature surrounded by other living things.”
        (Joseph Wood Krutch, “Some Unsentimental Confessions of a Nature Writer.” New York Herald Tribune Book Review, 1952)

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        Blockbuster Bankruptcy: A Decade of Decline




          First Blockbuster store opens

          On this day in 1985, the first Blockbuster video-rental store opens, in Dallas, Texas . At a time when most video stores were small-scale operations featuring a limited selection of titles, Blockbuster opened with some 8,000 tapes displayed on shelves around the store and a computerized check-out process. The first store was a success and Blockbuster expanded rapidly, eventually becoming one of the world’s largest providers of in-home movies and game entertainment.

          Blockbuster was founded by David Cook, who had previously owned a business that provided computer software services to the oil and gas industry in Texas. Cook saw the potential in the video-rental business and after opening the first Blockbuster in 1985, he added three more stores the following year. In 1987, he sold part of the business to a group of investors that included Wayne Huizenga, founder of Waste Management, Inc., the world’s biggest garbage disposal company. Later that year, Cook left Blockbuster and Huizenga assumed control of the company and moved its headquarters to Fort Lauderdale, Florida . Under Huizenga’s leadership, Blockbuster embarked on an aggressive expansion plan, snapping up existing video store chains and opening scores of new stores. By 1988, Blockbuster was America’s leading video chain, with some 400 stores. By the early 1990s, Blockbuster had launched its 1,000th store and expanded into the overseas market.

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          In 1994, Blockbuster was acquired by the media giant Viacom Inc., whose brands include MTV and Nickelodeon. In the mid-1990s, the digital video disc (DVD) made its debut and in 1997, Netflix, an online DVD rental service, was founded. Around that same time, the e-commerce giant launched a video and DVD store. Blockbuster faced additional competition from the rise of pay-per-view and on-demand movie services, through which viewers could pay for and watch movies instantly in their own homes. In 2004, Blockbuster split off from Viacom. That same year, Blockbuster launched an online DVD rental service to compete with Netflix. As of 2008, Blockbuster had some 8,000 stores around the world and was well known for its advertising campaigns, which included the long-running slogan “Make it a Blockbuster Night.” In 2006, the company, headquartered once again in Dallas, had global revenues of more than $5.5 billion.

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          Blockbuster Video
          AP Photos/Kevork Djansezian
          The good old days.

          A brief, illustrated history of Blockbuster, which is closing the last of its US stores

          By Matt Phillips & Roberto A. Ferdman

          This article has been corrected .

          Blockbuster is paying the ultimate late penalty.

          The remnants of the once-ubiquitous US video rental chain, now a subsidiary of Dish Network Corp., will shut its roughly 300 US retail stores as well as close its by-mail DVD distribution business. A reported 2,800 employees will lose their jobs .

          It’s notable that Blockbuster even still has 300 video stores, given how far consumer entertainment has come. But then, it wasn’t that long ago when Blockbuster appeared the unbeatable behemoth of the industry. In fact, it was less than a decade ago that the company was operating at full strength, with about 9,000 retail outlets. Here’s a brief history.

          1985 — In the midst of a sharp downturn in the oil and gas industry—to which he sold software—founder David Cook opens the first Blockbuster store in Dallas.

          1987 — Blockbuster is sold to a trio of investors, including Waste Management Inc. founder Wayne Huizenga, for $18.5 million .

          1992 — Blockbuster is the undisputed video rental leader, with over 2,800 stores worldwide. The company’s growth is driven by acquisitions of other retailers such as Britain’s Ritz and US chains Major Video and Erol’s Video.

          1994 — Viacom buys Blockbuster for $8.4 billion .

          1997 — Silicon Valley veteran Reed Hastings founds Netflix, partly out of frustration after being fined $40 by Blockbuster for being late in returning “Apollo 13.”

          1999 — Viacom takes Blockbuster public , retaining its stake in the firm in order to take advantage of its steady cash flow .

          New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso (L) and NYSE President Charles Johnstone (R) join actress Rene Russo (2nd from L) and Blockbuster Video Chairman and CEO John Antioco (C) on the balcony overlooking the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, during the first day of public trading for Blockbuster.

          2000 — Blockbuster takes in almost $800 million in late fees, which accounts for roughly 16% of its revenue, according to the Associated Press .

          Creative Commons/Genista
          Outrage among Blockbuster’s customers eventually forced the company to shutter its late fee policy.

          2002 — Netflix goes public.

          Reuters/Fred Prouser
          Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, flaunts his company’s fast rise back in 2005.

          2004 — Blockbuster is at the peak of its powers, with about 9,000 stores globally. Activist investor Carl Icahn begins amassing a stake in Blockbuster .

          AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
          Even Carl Icahn liked what he saw in the video rental company.

          2007 — Blockbuster CEO John Antioco steps down after openly feuding with Icahn.

          2010 — Blockbuster files for bankruptcy protections in September , moving to wipe out around $1 billion in debt. As a senior bondholder, Icahn receives a large equity stake.

          2011 — Dish Network buys the assets of Blockbuster for $234 million in cash at auction. The deal includes more than 1,700 retail locations , which it is expected to close over time.

          2012 — Dish announces plans to close some of its stores , despite rumblings about using the real estate as a place to sell mobile phones .

          2013 — Blockbuster announces plans to close its remaining US stores.

          Creative Commons/Christopher Paquette

          Correction (Nov. 6): Correction: A previous version of this post said Netflix was founded in 1999. It was founded in 1997.

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          Blockbuster Is Closing 2 Alaska Locations, Which Means Only 1 Store Remains

          Only one Blockbuster is still open—and it’s something of a tourist attraction.

          Kate Streit 2018-07-20


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          Blockbuster store closing
          Flickr | yapsnaps

          There was a time, back in the 1990s, when it seemed like there was a Blockbuster on every corner. Now, there’s technically just one location of the once-ubiquitous video rental chain left in the entire country.

          Two locations in Alaska  — one in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks  — have now closed. This week, both stores held liquidation sales on the last of their inventory . The movies range in price for $3 to $20, and the stores plan to be open daily from noon to 10 p.m. through August. The closings in Alaska leave one lone Blockbuster, in Bend, Oregon — now the last remaining location in all of the United States .

          Now that it can be considered a relic of a bygone era, the once-ordinary store has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with people stopping by to take their picture in front of the store, like this customer who took a selfie in front of the location and posted it to Facebook:

          For now, business at the last Blockbuster is still thriving. Sandi Harding is the general manager at the Bend location and has worked there since 2004. “The social interaction you get — face-to-face talking to people, not having your nose in your phones — I think that’s what you find coming into a Blockbuster store,” Harding told NBC News of the store’s continued and unlikely success.

          For the store’s loyal customers who have been coming there for years, the location’s status as the last of its kind is bittersweet.

          “I’m sad, but I’m happy there’s a sole survivor,” longtime Bend customer Simon Birmingham told NBC News. “It has been an icon for my life.”

          The first Blockbuster opened in Dallas in 1985. By 2004, the company had about 9,000 stores around the world . In 2010, the store filed for bankruptcy protection, and by 2013, the writing was on the wall that the business model no longer worked in the face of competition from streaming services like Netflix, and the company announced plans to close all of its remaining stores .

          Do you miss Blockbuster, or are you happily streaming your movies now?
          Tags: blockbuster closing Hulu movie rental netflix retail apocalypse streaming streaming movies
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