The Society of Authors last night (25th June) distributed £85,000 to writers at its annual authors’ awards, giving out prizes to writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and material for teaching English.
Author Ben Fergusson won the biggest prize of the night, receiving the £10,000 Betty Trask prize for a first novel of “outstanding literary merit” by an author under the age of 35 for The Spring of Kasper Meier (Little, Brown).
Three authors received £5,000 runner-up Betty Trask awards; Emma Healey for Elizabeth is Missing (Viking), Zoe Pilger for Eat My Heart Out (Serpent’s Tail), and Simon Wroe for Chop Chop (Viking).
Pilger won a second award, receiving a Somerset Maugham award of £2,500 for travel writing. The three other Somerset Maugham awards went to Jonathan Beckman for How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette, the Stolen Diamonds and the Scandal that Shook the French Throne (John Murray), Liz Berry for Black Country (Chatto & Windus) and Ben Brooks for Lolito (Canongate).
Other authors who won awards on the night include Ben Macintyre, who picked up the £5,000 Elizabeth Longford Prize for historical biography, and Robert Allison, who won the £4,000 McKitterick Prize for a debut novel by an author over the age of 40 with The Letter Bearer (Granta).
Several awards were given to poets, and Rowan Evans, Miriam Nash, Padraig Regan, Stewart Sanderson and Andrew Wynn Owen each won a £4,500 Eric Gregory award for poets under the age of 30. Patience Agbabi, Brian Catling, Christopher Middleton, Pascale Petie and J H Prynne received a £1,500 Cholmondeley award each in recognition of “the achievement and distinction of individual poets”.
Four writers – Tahmima Anam, James Hall, Philip Terry and Rupert Thomson - received travelling scholarships of £1,750, and Maria C McCarthy was given the £1,000 Tom-Gallon Trust award for her short story More Katherine Than Audrey.
The awards were presented at a ceremony in London last night by novelist Sarah Waters, a previous recipient of a Betty Trask Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award.