The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize

Slightly Foxed is new sponsor of Best First Biography Prize

The literary quarterly Slightly Foxed is the new sponsor of the Biographers' Club Best First Biography Prize. The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize will be presented in the autumn, and will be worth £3,500 to the winner. Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Jane Ridley, and Anthony Sattin will be the judges.

Previous winners of the prize, which for the past three years has been sponsored  by HW Fisher, were Charles Moore in 2013 for Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography Volume One: Not for Turning (Allen Lane); Thomas Penn in 2012 for Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England (Allen Lane); and Matthew Hollis  in 2011 for Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas (Faber). Slightly Foxed will sponsor the Prize for the next three years.

Slightly Foxed, which this spring celebrates its 10th anniversary, is a literary magazine with a very personal flavour, which aims to introduce – and reintroduce – its readers to some of the many interesting books which often languish on publishers' backlists, but which have influenced, touched or simply entertained the people who write about them. In 2008 it founded Slightly Foxed Editions, a series of limited-edition pocket hardback reissues of classic memoirs – so its sponsorship of the Best First Biography Prize is particularly apt. Slightly Foxed also owns a London bookshop selling old and new books, Slightly Foxed on Gloucester Road.

Anne de Courcy, Chair of the Biographers’ Club, said: "Slightly Foxed and the Biographers' Club seem to me a match made in heaven and we at the Club look forward enormously to working together."

Publishers are invited to enter titles published between 1 September 2013 and 1 August 2014 for the Prize.

Download the entry form here.


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:

THIS BOY, Alan Johnson (Bantam Press)
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.

Sponsored by HW Fisher & Company
Authors and Journalists Team
020 7388 7000,

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.






©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.


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