McAnulty, Demick and Summerscale make Baillie Gifford Prize longlist

McAnulty, Demick and Summerscale make Baillie Gifford Prize longlist

Dara McAnulty has become the youngest Baillie Gifford Prize longlisted author ever, joining previous winners Barbara Demick and Kate Summerscale in the running for this year's £50,000 non-fiction award.

The 16-year-old activist and autism advocate, who scooped the Wainwright Prize this week, is listed for his Diary of a Young Naturalist (Little Toller).

Also on the longlist, which was announced today, are Demick for Eat the Buddha:The Story of Modern Tibet Through the People of One Town (Granta) and Summerscale's The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story (Bloomsbury), an account of the 1930s "Croydon poltergeist" case, to be published in October. Both authors are previous winners of the prize, with Demick taking the 2010 award for Nothing to Envy (Granta) and Summerscale triumphing in 2008 with The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (Bloomsbury).

Elsewhere on the list, there are nods for One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time by Craig Brown (Fourth Estate), which mixes social and musical history to tell the Fab Four's story, and Dear Life by NHS doctor Rachel Clarke (Little, Brown), a personal memoir revealing the care and kindness found in a hospice. 

Also in with a shout are The Idea of the Brain: A History by Matthew Cobb (Profile) which examines the science through a historical perspective, and The Lives of Lucian Freud: FAME 1968- 2011 by William Feaver (Bloomsbury), continuing his biography of the artist.

The list also features Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh (Allen Lane), a modern biography of the great slave leader, military genius and revolutionary hero, and Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women by Christina Lamb (William Collins), giving voice to the women of conflicts.

Labours of Love — The Crisis of Care by Madeleine Bunting (Granta), combining history with testimony from medical professionals, and Those Who Forget: One Family's Story; A Memoir, a History, a Warning by Géraldine Schwarz (Pushkin), an account of her family’s complicity with fascism, are also in the running.

The longlist is completed with Stranger in the Shogun's City: A Woman’s Life in Nineteenth-Century Japan by Amy Stanley (Chatto), chronicling the story of Tsuneno, and Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade (Faber), a study of five creatives, activists and revolutionaries who lived in Mecklenburgh Square.

Martha Kearney, chair of judges, said: “Narrowing more than 200 books down to a longlist has been a Herculean task, made even more challenging by the lockdown. Despite the joys of Zoom, we have managed to agree on 13 exceptional books which reflect the creative power of 21st-century non-fiction from new writers to accomplished authors, spanning war, art, science, history, ghosts and the Beatles.”

The longlist was chosen by a panel chaired by the BBC Radio 4 “Today” presenter, alongside professor and author Shahidha Bari, editor and novelist Simon Ings, New Statesman writer Leo Robson, New York Times opinion editor Max Strasser and journalist Bee Wilson.

The shortlist for the 2020 award will be announced on 15th October, with the winner crowned in a virtual reception on 24th November.

Last year’s winner was Hallie Rubenhold for The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (Transworld).