Yrsa Daley-Ward has won this year’s £3,000 PEN Ackerley Prize for her memoir The Terrible (Penguin).
The winner of the award, the UK’s only literary prize dedicated to memoir and autobiography, was announced at a ceremony at London’s Free Word centre yesterday (9th July).
Daley-Ward saw off competition from The Unmapped Mind by Christian Donlan (Viking) and Gloucester Crescent by William Miller (Profile) to take home the prize.
The book, chronicling her childhood in the north west of England, was praised by chair of judges, Peter Parker, for its “sheer originality, energy and fearlessness”.
In an acceptance speech, read out by Penguin Press editorial director Josephine Greywoode, Daley-Ward said: “I never expected to write a memoir. I still feel strange telling anyone that I have written a memoir.
“Two years ago I sat down to write what I thought would be a fantasy book about children and magic, but what followed was a different kind of thing altogether, because everything was true. Sometimes when you have a lot of what feels like heavy truth inside you, it has to move out of the way to make space for other things. And so, here we are. The truest thing I have written so far. I never thought I’d tell another living soul some of the things that are in this book.”
The PEN Ackerley Prize was first awarded in 1982, established in memory of Joe Randolph Ackerley, long-time editor of The Listener, by his sister Nancy.
Last year’s winner was Richard Beard for The Day That Went Missing (Harvill Secker).