The HW Fisher Biography Prize 2013
The winner of the HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize (£5,000) is Charles Moore, for MARGARET THATCHER: NOT FOR TURNING (Allen Lane), volume 1 of his authorised biography of the late Prime Minister. The judges named as runner-up Harriet Tuckey, for EVEREST: THE FIRST ASCENT (Ebury).
The complete shortlist was:
IN TWO MINDS: A BIOGRAPHY OF JONATHAN MILLER, Kate Bassett (Oberon)
COSMO LANG: ARCHBISHOP IN WAR AND CRISIS, Robert Beaken (I B Tauris)
THIS BOY, Alan Johnson (Bantam Press)
MARGARET THATCHER: NOT FOR TURNING, Charles Moore (Allen Lane)
TARANTULA'S WEB, John Smart (Michael Russell)
EVEREST: THE FIRST ASCENT, Harriet Tuckey (Rider/Ebury)
The judges were D.J.Taylor, whose subjects include George Orwell and W.M.Thackeray; Robert Collins, deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times; and Sally Cline, author of Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John and Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise.
HW Fisher & Company, the generous sponsor, is a leading firm of chartered accountants and a specialist in consulting services to authors.
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Previous winners: 2009 – Roland Chambers for The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome (Faber); 2010 – Wendy Moffat for E.M. Forster: A New Life (Bloomsbury); 2011 – Matthew Hollis for Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas (Faber); 2012 – Thomas Penn for Winter King (Penguin).
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The HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize 2012
From a total of 47 entries, the winner of this year’s £5,000 HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize is Thomas Penn for Winter King, published by Penguin. Speaking on behalf of the judges, David Sexton said: “Winter King is a masterful narrative of the reign of Henry VII, the monarch Shakespeare avoided and Francis Bacon called a ‘dark prince, and infinitely suspicious’. Thomas Penn tells the alarming story of this chilly monarch not just with impressive scholarship but with rare artistry, constantly switching perspectives and zooming in on details in a way that makes this biography read as compellingly as a great novel. It stands comparison with Hilary Mantel’s ongoing series of novels, which take up the story of the Tudors where Thomas Penn leaves off. Winter King is astoundingly assured for a first book.”
The shortlisted entrants were:
[Runner-up] Louise Miller – A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes (Alma Books)
Ian Donaldson – Ben Jonson: A Life (OUP)
Joanna Hodgkin – Amateurs in Eden (Virago)
W. Sydney Robinson – Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W.T. Stead (Robson Press)
Tom Williams – A Mysterious Something in the Light: Raymond Chandler (Aurum)
2012 judges: Julie Kavanagh, whose subjects include Frederick Ashton and Rudolf Nureyev; David Sexton, literary editor of the Evening Standard; and Stephanie Williams, author of Hongkong Bank, Olga’s Story and Running the Show: Governors of the British Empire.
Our thanks to Richard Johnson, David Roberts and Alan Brooke for their immeasurable help in selecting the short list.
The Biographers’ Club Prize Dinner 2012 was held on 13 November at the Savile Club in London.