Sources of income for writers

At the Biographers' Club panel event on authors' incomes, Richard Holmes - most recent winner of the Club's Lifetime Services to Biography Prize - handed round on behalf of the Royal Literary Fund a list of possible sources of income for writers. You can see the list here.


Biographers' Club Lunch with Fiona MacCarthy

Thursday, 5 March

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.

Tickets: £30.

Book with This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and send cheques (made out to the Biographers' Club) to Nicholas Clee, 8 Plimsoll Road, London N4 2EW. Bank details available on request. Please state if you are vegetarian.


AN Wilson in conversation with Jane Ridley

Monday, 13 April

Distinguished biographer, novelist and columnist AN Wilson will talk about Queen Victoria, the subject of his latest, acclaimed biography, in conversation with Jane Ridley, also a prominent biographer, most recently of King Edward VII, in a joint Biographers' Club/Savile Club event on Monday 13 April.

Wilson has written lives of Hilaire Belloc, Leon Tolstoy, Jesus Christ, John Betjeman and Adolf Hitler, among others, and a best-selling account of the Victorian era. His biography of Queen Victoria, described by Frances Wilson as "victorious and expansive", is the culmination of a lifetime of engagement with the monarch who ruled for nearly 64 years.Given that Prof. Jane Ridley is the world's leading authority on Queen Victoria's son and heir, this promises to be a particularly interesting evening.

Venue and date: Savile Club, 69 Brook Street, London W1, on Monday 13 April, with drinks served from 18.30 and the talk starting at 19.00.

Tickets: £10 for the talk and a glass of wine and a further £30 for a three-course dinner with wine thereafter. Members of the Biographers Club should make a reservation directly with the Savile on 020 7629 5462.


Biographers' Club Prizes - the winners


dinner14 sattin pirkis renton hughes-hallett ridleyAt 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."

dinner14 clark feigel2Polly 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.

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Richard Holmes with (from left) Helen Ellis (HarperCollins), Rose Tremain, and Arabella Pike (HC)

dinner14 feigel kanarek sisman

Lara Feigel with Kevin Kanarek (shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize) and Adam Sisman

dinner14 patrick renton pike

Claudia Renton (centre) with Katherine Patrick (left) and Arabella Pike of HarperCollins


Summer party

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).

summer party hicks laoutaris alexander donnan

Gary Hicks, Chris Laoutaris, James Hamilton, Emma Donnan

summer party ridley eade

Jane Ridley, Philip Eade

summer party allstars

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 general enquiries please contact Nicholas Clee: info at biographersclub dot co dot uk

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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©2011 Biographers' Club. All rights reserved. Designed by Dawn Roberts
Club founded by Andrew Lownie (President). Committee: Anne de Courcy (Chairman), Sarah Anderson, Philippa Bernard, Nicholas Clee, Caroline Knox, Brenda Maddox, Jane Ridley, David Waller.

Associate committee members: Jane Mays, Ariane Bankes (Prize Administrator).

Address for cheques [for events and membership]: 8 Plimsoll Road, London N4 2EW.

Address for entry fee cheques for the Tony Lothian Prize and HW Fisher Prize: 79 Arlington Avenue, London N1 7BA.


Company No. 6771370. Registered Charity No. 1128358.