Bob Gilbert’s Ghost Trees: Nature and People in a London Parish longlisted for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize

Huge congrats to the publisher of Ghost Trees, Saraband, on this latest awards nod.

Poplar-based author and former stand-up comic Bob Gilbert has been longlisted for one of the worlds’ most prestigious literary prizes – the Rathbone Folio Prize – for his book, Ghost Trees.

Ghost Trees is the story of a city landscape told through its trees, both past and present.

When Bob Gilbert moved to London's East End, he began to record the natural world of his new inner-city patch. Especially the trees: their history, their stories, the trees' relationship with people. Bob takes a personal journey of exploration through the generations of trees that have helped shape the London district of Poplar, from the original wildwood through to the street trees of today.

Drawing from history and natural history, poetry and painting, myth and magic, he reveals the hidden influences that lost landscapes - the `ghost trees' - have had on the shape of the city today.

Bob Gilbert says, "I am thrilled to find myself longlisted alongside such an outstanding group of authors for this prestigious prize. Ghost Trees is a book about nature in an urban setting, but above all about the importance of place. I am particularly pleased therefore that this is a prize sponsored by Rathbones, who have such a long history of working with the community."

Saraband publisher Sara Hunt says, "I couldn't be more delighted for Bob Gilbert seeing his warm, engaging and beautifully written book appearing on a longlist for such a distinguished prize – and with a group of exceptional authors who are at the top of their respective literary genres. It's a fantastic accolade, and so well deserved."

Bob Gilbert is the author of The Green London Way (Lawrence & Wishart, 2012) and has written a column for Ham & High on urban wildlife for the last twenty years. A contributor to TV and radio, including Natural World and BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme, Bob has also been a stand-up comedian, a long-standing campaigner for inner city conservation and chair of `The Garden Classroom', a charity that promotes environmental education in London.

Open to English-language writers from around the world, the £30,000 Rathbones Folio Prize rewards the best work of literature published in the UK in a given year. It is the only literary prize in which all the books considered — be they fiction, non-fiction, short stories or poetry — are nominated and judged by an Academy of writers. The judges will next decide on a shortlist of eight, to be announced on 4 April, and the eventual winner will receive a cheque for £30,000 (an increase from £20,000 in 2018) at the award ceremony on 20 May.