Rob’s nature book is a favourite with UK readers Monday 12 February 2018 Alumni An account by author Rob Cowen (OL 95) of a year in the natural life of a rustic corner of Harrogate has taken third place in a poll to find Britain’s favourite nature book. Common Ground, in which Rob forages in the footpaths around Bilton, was voted for by the public in an online poll featuring 10 shortlisted books and was praised by the shortlisting committee for “celebrating an environment that lies at the very edge of urban development.” The hunt to find the nation’s favourite nature book attracted 770 nominations from the public when it was launched on the BBC’s Autumnwatch and in the October edition of the BBC Wildlife Magazine. Rob’s book was nominated by his former teacher, Derek Fry. Ben Hoare, features editor at BBC Wildlife Magazine, said: “This fabulous shortlist reflects the life-affirming, life-changing power of great writing about the natural world. “The 10 books include poetry, memoir, explorations of local place, fiction and writing for children, reflecting the phenomenal breadth and beauty of Britain’s nature writing tradition. Some of the books are very well known, others less so, but all deserve to be read and re-read.” In total, 7,300 votes were cast by the public in the national poll which was organised as part of a research project by the University of Leeds. Rob, a journalist and writer, wrote Common Ground after returning to Yorkshire from London and his book has already been shortlisted for a number of awards, including the prestigious Wainwright Prize. He has attributed his love of reading and writing to his English teacher and sixth form master Christopher Wallbank, and also credits Derek Fry, Peter Jolly, Joanne Harris and Mike Parkinson as being inspiring and influential teachers during his time at Leeds Grammar School.