A teenage birdwatcher and environmentalist has won a six-figure advance for a memoir she began writing while studying for A-levels.
Mya-Rose Craig, 18, dubbed the UK’s answer to the Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg, is the author of the popular Birdgirl blog and was taken on her first ornithology trip by her family when she was nine days old. Her memoir, Birdgirl, which explores her love of birds and move into environmental and racial activism, sparked a 14-way auction among publishers. It was won by Jonathan Cape, a literary imprint at Penguin Random House.
Each chapter will be dedicated to a species and describe her travels in search of rare and spectacular birds. Two favorites are Australia’s southern cassowary, a giant flightless bird, and the harpy eagle, a large raptor that lives in the rainforest. “I never dared hope anyone would want to publish [the memoir], let alone compete over it — that was crazy. It has lots of themes, some quite uncomfortable, to do with growing up, mental health, family and obviously nature. I hope it will feel universal,” said Craig.
“I never dared hope anyone would want to publish [the memoir], let alone compete over it.”
She also founded Black2Nature, which aims to increase access to nature for people from ethnic minorities: “When I was younger, I never saw anyone who looked like me.” Craig, who is half-Bangladeshi and lives in the countryside near Bristol, said she rejected the “British Greta” tag as “every environmentalist has different priorities as climate change affects so much”, but that she did feel inspired by Thunberg: “She is so strong. When you are at an age when people don’t listen to you, she has made it impossible for them not to listen.” She met Thunberg in Bristol in February.
Although she has traveled extensively, Craig would like Britons to campaign for their own environment: “Our biodiversity has been so depleted for so long that we’re used to it — we just accept that’s what our countryside looks like. So for a lot of people in the UK, it’s more shocking to see rainforest being chopped down for farms in South America than ancient woodland being chopped down here. We have lost a lot, but we have a lot left to lose.”
She started her blog when she was 12; it has now had about four million views. She will study politics and international relations at Warwick University next year. Birdgirl will be published in autumn 2022.
Standing proudly at 6ft 10in, meet the 17-year-old with the longest legs in the world – and big aspirations to be a model.
Maci Currin only realized she could be in the running for the Guinness World Record when she was offered a custom pair of leggings. Her left pin is more than 4ft 5in long while her right is a fraction shorter, knocking Russian basketball star Ekaterina Lisina – with 4ft 4in legs – off the top spot. She said: ‘There are definitely negatives to having such long legs – hitting your head walking through doors, getting into cars, trying to find clothes that fit.’ But she urged others with unique physical attributes: ‘Don’t hide it, embrace it.’
Maci, from Austin, Texas, towers over her mother Trish, who is an above-average 5ft 7in – although her father Cameron is 6ft 5in, while her brother Jacob is 6ft 3in. When Maci was born, she measured 19 inches, well within the average range, but when she was nine, she was already 5ft 7in.
She has to grow a fair few inches to take the crown of tallest living woman, held by Sun Fang, 33, from China, at 7ft 3in. The tallest woman ever measured was also Chinese – Zeng Jinlian, who died in 1982, was 8ft 1in.