Brown and Williams scoop James Tait Black prizes

Brown and Williams scoop James Tait Black prizes

Craig Brown, who wrote a biography of HRH Princess Margaret, and short story writer Eley Williams are the winners of this year’s James Tait Black Prizes, awarded by the University of Edinburgh.

Brown, a satirist and journalist, won the biography prize for Ma'am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret (4th Estate), which combines interviews, parodies and essays to present a “witty and unconventional picture of royal life” in the mid 20th century.

Williams was given the fiction prize for Attrib. and Other Stories (Influx Press), a series of experimental short stories centred upon the challenges people face in communicating thoughts and feelings.

The judges said Brown’s “astonishing blend of materials work together to create a biography that is both profound and wildly entertaining”, whilst praised Williams’ collection for being “a remarkable set of short stories: experimental in the best way possible, articulating moments of intense intimacy with stunning freshness and clarity”.

Both winners received prizes of £10,000.

Craig Brown and Eley Williams

The James Tait Black Awards were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband’s love of good books.

Brown’s book was chosen from a shortlist that featured The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard (Harvill Secker), Ali, A Life by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster), and The Dawn Watch, Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff (William Collins), whilst Williams beat off competition from American War by Omar El Akkad, (Picador), White Tears by Hari Kunzru, (Hamish Hamilton) and First Love by Gwendoline Riley (Granta).

This year’s fiction shortlist features in a free online course to help book lovers get the best out of their reading. Entitled How to Read a Novel, the course was launched in 2017 by The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Participants can sign-up for the free course online.