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The Invention of Nature wins the Costa Biography Award

Conville and Walsh are delighted to announce that Andrea Wulf has won the 2015 Costa Biography Award for her superb book on Alexander von Humboldt, THE INVENTION OF NATURE: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science.


Published by John Murray in the UK and by Knopf in the States, THE INVENTION OF NATURE tells the story of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the great lost scientist who has more things named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast, there’s a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon.

His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy’s Own story: Humboldt explored deep into the rainforest, climbed the world’s highest volcanoes and inspired princes and presidents, scientists and poets alike. Napoleon was jealous of him; Simon Bolívar’s revolution was fuelled by his ideas; Darwin set sail on the Beagle because of Humboldt; and Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo owned all his many books. He simply was, as one contemporary put it, ‘the greatest man since the Deluge’.

Taking us on a fantastic voyage in his footsteps - racing across anthrax-infected Russia or mapping tropical rivers alive with crocodiles - Andrea Wulf shows why his life and ideas remain so important today. Humboldt predicted human-induced climate change as early as 1800, and The Invention of Nature traces his ideas as they go on to revolutionize and shape science, conservation, nature writing, politics, art and the theory of evolution. He wanted to know and understand everything and his way of thinking was so far ahead of his time that it’s only coming into its own now. Alexander von Humboldt really did invent the way we see nature.


THE INVENTION OF NATURE has also been short-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction and the 2015 Kirkus Prize, has been named one of the 10 Books of the Year by The New York Times, and secured Andrea a British Library Fellowship. It has been called ‘a superb biography’ by the Economist and ‘An exhilarating armchair voyage’ in the Mail on Sunday

The Costa Book Award judges said THE INVENTION OF NATURE was a “thrillingly readable story of a visionary 18th century scientist and adventurer who travelled the globe, from the South American rainforests to the Siberian steppes, and foresaw the destructive impact of mankind on the world.”

Andrea and THE INVENTION OF NATURE are now in the running to win the Costa Book of the Year Award, with the overall award winner announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in central London on Tuesday 26th January 2016.

05 Jan 2016