Posted on: August 26th, 2011 by OWPGWordsmith

August 26, 2011


Best-selling author and environmental campaigner Bill Bryson has won the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild’s prestigious Golden Eagle Award for his campaigning work to protect the British countryside from litterlouts, fly tipping and other threats.

The annual award is presented to “a person who has rendered distinguished or meritorious service to the outdoors generally”.

Although born in Iowa in the United States, Bill is passionate about the British countryside and has been described as “the world’s No 1 Anglophile”. He has made his home in rural Norfolk, after many years living at Kirkby Malham in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

Bill is an ardent campaigner for the UK environment and since 2007 has been president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). In this role he has spearheaded the ‘Stop the Drop’ anti-litter and fly-tipping campaign, which has gained the support of Keep Britain Tidy and the Local Government Association.

His love for the British countryside was perhaps best expressed during the successful CPRE campaign for the designation of the South Downs as Britain’s latest national park. “Something I have often wondered is why we don’t make the whole of England a national park,” he claimed.

Bill is probably best-known as the author of best-selling, often hilarious travel books such as A Walk In the Woods (1998) and Notes From a Big Country (1999), as well as acclaimed popular science works such as A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003) and history volumes including his most recent book At Home: A Short History of Private Life (2010).

Despite his American origins, his 1995 travelogue Notes From a Small Island was chosen as the book which best represented England in a 2003 poll for World Book Day.

OWPG President Roly Smith commented: “Although Bill is perhaps best-known as a very funny travel writer, I don’t know anyone who is more in love with the British countryside, and who campaigns more vigorously to protect it. He is a very worthy recipient of our Golden Eagle Award, and I am delighted that he is our 2011 winner.”

The award takes the form of an original watercolour painting by the renowned outdoor artist David Bellamy, who is a long-standing member of the Guild.

The Golden Eagle Award has been presented annually since 1995. Previous winners of the award have included naturalist Sir David Attenborough in 2004, mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington CBE in 2008, and prominent access campaigner Marion Shoard in 2009,


Notes for editors

1. Bill Bryson will receive the Golden Eagle Award at a special ceremony, to be arranged, to which the press will be invited.

2. The Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild represents professional journalists, writers, photographers and others who specialise in covering sustainable outdoor activities and the environment in the British media. More information about the Guild can be found on its website:

3. For further information about this year’s Golden Eagle Award, contact OWPG president Roly Smith on 01629 812034 or by email at


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