Biographers' Club prize awards Cumming, Wade and Norwich

Biographers' Club prize awards Cumming, Wade and Norwich

The Biographers' Club has awarded three prizes at a dinner held last night (November 4th) at the National Liberal Club.

Alan Cumming won the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize; Francesca Wade the Tony Lothian Prize for the best proposal for an uncommissioned first biography; and John Julius Norwich the Lifetime Service to Biography award.

Cumming's memoir Not My Father's Son, published by Canongate, was judged the winner of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize (£3,500) by judges Damian Barr, Fiona MacCarthy and James Naughtie. The shortlist for the Slight Foxed sponsored prize included books authored by Anita Anand, Michael Bundock, Lyndsey Jenkins, and Sarah Knights.

Naughtie said of Cumming's win: "Alan Cumming's Not My Father's Son is a brilliant antidote to the celebrity memoir, because his story isn't raw for the sake of it. The violence and mental distress of a broken family, and the strange dichotomy of his youth, are rendered with an eloquence and wit that set it apart. This is a real book."

Wade won the 2015 Tony Lothian Prize, which awards £2,000 to the best proposal for an uncommissioned first biography, for Square Haunting: A Group Biography of Eight Women who Lived in Mecklenburgh Square Between the Wars, as judged by Claudia Renton (winner of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize in 2014), Jeremy Lewis, and Frances Wilson.

In Square Hunting, Wade explores the intersecting inter-war lives of writers Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) and Dorothy L Sayers; “stylish lesbian” Nancy Morris; historian and suffragist Eileen Power; classicist Jane Harrison and her lover Hope Mirlees, whose poetic work Paris was published by Woolf at the Hogarth Press; Lorna Wishart, muse to Laurie Lee; and Virginia Woolf, as a chronicler of war and of the City of London.

The prize, run by the Biographers' Club, is sponsored by the Duchess of Buccleuch in memory of her mother, Antonella, Marchioness of Lothian, OBE (1922-2007).

Norwich won the club's Lifetime Services to Biography Prize, joining previous winners Michael Holroyd, Philip Ziegler, Selina Hastings, Claire Tomalin, Antonia Fraser, and Richard Holmes.