The Ginkgo Prize is funded by the Edward Goldsmith Foundation, which raises awareness of the work and ideas of the late, great, environmentalist, campaigner and author Teddy Goldsmith.
Edward ‘Teddy’ Goldsmith (1928-2009) combined environmentalism with campaigning, philosophy and politics in a true maverick style. Graduating from Oxford in 1950, Goldsmith completed National Service and afterwards took up a business career in Paris. When this proved unsuccessful, he travelled in Africa with a friend and observed the tribal communities that would go on to influence much of his work, including his theories on sustainable living.
Goldsmith co-founded The Ecologist in 1969 which published often radical articles on a wide range of environmental affairs. The magazine held industry, corporations, banks and governments, among others, to account for their damaging actions. Alarmed at what he saw as imminent social breakdown, he moved to a small farm in Cornwall, delighting in the fickleness of his Clivus Multrum, an innovative composting toilet which typically confounded his visiting London friends. He produced the magazine from this new location. In 1972, he published A Blueprint for Survival, a seminal book endorsed by thirty of the leading scientists of the day . The book sold 500,000 copies, was translated into 16 languages, and influenced academics and policy-makers alike.
It even prompted the formation of a new political party, The People Party, which was founded in 1973. The following year, Goldsmith boldly stood as a parliamentary candidate for the new party in the constituency of Eye in Suffolk. He did not win, but the People Party went on to become the Green Party, which currently has one Member of Parliament, one member of the House of Lords, and three Members of the European Parliament.
Goldsmith’s study of natural systems and our collective negative impact on them was pioneering. Together with his charisma, sociability and stubbornness, he was a force to be reckoned with. Speaking of his achievements, Goldsmith said he hoped he had ‘helped to slow the runaway juggernaut that we’ve created, or make people aware of it, that has to be a good thing. I hope I have done that’.
The Ecologist magazine merged with Resurgence magazine in 2012 to become Resurgence & Ecologist. The JMG Foundation and the Edward Goldsmith Foundation continue to support a range of environmental causes to this day.
In addition to the Edward Goldsmith Foundation, the Poetry School are enormously grateful to the prize’s patrons: Peter Phelps, Alexander Goldsmith, Dido Goldsmith, Daphne Astor, and Jason Gathorne-Hardy.