Biographers' Club Lunch with Fiona MacCarthy
Thursday, 5 March, 2015
Secrets and Lies - Adventures of a Biographer
Cultural historian Fiona MacCarthy has written highly-praised lives of Eric Gill, William Morris, Stanley Spencer, Lord Byron and Edward Burne-Jones, as well as a memoir of her debutante days and many other studies of arts, crafts and design. She will talk about her choice of subjects and how she goes about writing her biographies, about the highs and lows, the false starts, dead ends, and unexpected revelations of research. She will tell us the stories of telling lives, the dilemmas and judgements that a biographer has to bring to bear to tell the truth about people who lived in different times and different climes.
Venue and time: The Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ. 12.30 for 1pm.
Biographers' Club Prizes - the winners
At the Biographers' Club dinner on Friday, 21 November, Claudia Renton won the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, Polly Clark won the Tony Lothian Prize, and Richard Holmes received the Lifetime Services to Biography Prize.
Claudia Renton won the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize (£3,500) for THOSE WILD WYNDHAMS: THREE SISTERS AT THE HEART OF POWER (Collins). Lucy Hughes-Hallett, who judged the Prize with Jane Ridley and Anthony Sattin, said: "Claudia Renton chose a richly interesting subject and in Those Wild Wyndhams she has done it proud. Mary, Madeline and Pamela Wyndham's connections – familial, sexual and social – place them at the heart of a Britain which was brought to an end by the First World War. Through their love affairs and marriages, their house-parties and their patronage, the three sisters dominated a milieu where high society, high finance, politics and the arts were interconnected. Biography has been called the "higher gossip" - this book, ingeniously structured and written with fluency and wit, demonstrates how enjoyable, and how historically illuminating, high gossip can be."
Polly Clark won the Tony Lothian Prize (£2,000), for a proposal by a first-time biographer, for THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING. The judges were Lara Feigel, Allan Massie, and Adam Sisman. Abandoned by her father before she was born, Clark grew up without knowing the circumstances of her birth, or what had precipitated her mother's lifelong depression and her sister's drug addiction. Interleaving her father's letters with imagined episodes from her parents' lives and her own memories, Clark pieces together the ill-starred love affair between her parents and its devastating consequences. Into this story is woven her own journey towards the milestones of marriage and family. Thank You So Much For Writing combines fact, fiction and archival material to create an experimental memoir which excavates a moving family history where there was nothing before.
Richard Holmes received the Lifetime Services to Biography prize, having been introduced by old friend Michael Holroyd - who, back in 2009, had been the inaugural Lifetime Services winner.
Photos: (top) Claudia Renton (centre) with (from left) Anthony Sattin, Gail Pirkis of Slightly Foxed, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, and Jane Ridley: (above) Polly Clark (left) with Lara Feigel.
Richard Holmes with (from left) Helen Ellis (HarperCollins), Rose Tremain, and Arabella Pike (HC)
Lara Feigel with Kevin Kanarek (shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize) and Adam Sisman
Claudia Renton (centre) with Katherine Patrick (left) and Arabella Pike of HarperCollins
The Club's summer party took place on Wednesday 18 June in the beautiful garden of an 18th-century house, graced by the spirits of Muzio Clementi and Felix Mendelssohn, in Kensington, with music by the Crouch End Allstars (Wally Fawkes on clarinet).
Gary Hicks, Chris Laoutaris, James Hamilton, Emma Donnan
Jane Ridley, Philip Eade
The Crouch End Allstars
Founded in 1997 by literary agent and biographer Andrew Lownie, the Biographers' Club is an umbrella organisation which seeks to educate, inspire, promote and foster a better understanding of the art of biography and its relevance across the broad spectrum of human endeavour. Through our events, we create a forum for this understanding, a public benefit for all in the art of biography across all media and disciplines, and a professional and social interaction among its membership.
For membership enquiries contact Philippa Bernard: membership at biographersclub dot co dot uk
For events enquiries contact: secretary at biographersclub dot co dot uk Please email this address to book your place at our events
For prize enquiries contact Ariane Bankes, ariane dot bankes at googlemail dot com or call 020 7359 7769
Request to potential new Members
We would like to invite the regular (currently non-member) guests who attend our events to apply for membership of the Biographers' Club. Annual fee is £35. Please contact Philippa Bernard (email: membership at biographersclub dot co dot uk) to check if you are eligible to join (also, please read the criteria contained in the Membership Application form, available on the Home and Members pages, right-hand green button).
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The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize
The literary quarterly Slightly Foxed is the new sponsor of the Best First Biography Prize, run by the Biographers’ Club. The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize will be presented in the autumn, and will be worth £3,500 to the winner. The judging panel will include Lucy Hughes-Hallett and Jane Ridley.
Free tax advice for Club members
The Authors and Journalists Team at HW Fisher & Company is dedicated to ensuring financial security and prosperity for their clients, and has many years’ experience in helping minimise tax liability. If you have a tax query, call their free tax helpline on 020 7874 7876 and quote ‘Biographers’ Club’, or email your query (quoting ‘Biographers’ Club’ in the subject line) to Andrew Subramaniam email@example.com or Barry Kernon firstname.lastname@example.org