Stuart Evers and Tessa McWatt have been announced as the joint winners of the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award.
Both will be awarded £20,000 and will use the library’s collections to research their upcoming books during their year’s residency, beginning January 2018.
The award, now in its seventh year, was set up to promote awareness of the British Library collections relating to the USA and Canada.
Evers, a novelist and short story writer, will research his novel, The Disappearances, the story of Thomas Lodge, and his determination to write the definitive account of history’s most confounding disappearances.
McWatt, an author, librettist and screenwriter, will be researching a memoir entitled Porous: A Memoir of Race and Stories, in which she will explore the hybridity of her racial and cultural heritage and grapple with “the social whiteness, political blackness and cultural duality of the privilege she has”.
The connection with the Eccles Centre will allow Evers and McWatt both to research their projects in the British Library in London's Bloomsbury, and to use the centre’s programme and networks to engage with other researchers, students and members of the public.
Last year novelist Hannah Kohler and the writer and film producer Bob Stanley, also a member of the Mercury-nominated pop group Saint Etienne, both won the award.
The judges for the prize were Professor Sarah Churchwell, professorial fellow in American Literature and chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, Richard Carwardine, formerly president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Dr Cara Rodway, acting head of the Eccles Centre, Catherine Eccles literary scout and granddaughter of David and Mary Eccles, who endowed the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the Library in 1991 and Dr Mercedes Aguirre, lead curator for the Americas at the British Library.
Rodway said this year’s awards have “have once again demonstrated that the British Library can support creative and original research”.
She said: “With projects which are set to range across the US, Canada and the Caribbean, this year’s award highlights the breadth and depth of the library’s wonderful collections on North America, and their immense value in providing a foundation for writers of enormous talent.”