The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction has struck a new five-year sponsorship deal with investment company Baillie Gifford and will seek to extend its reach to the US.
The prize, funded for the last six years by anonymous benefactors and supported by the BBC, will now be renamed The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.
Prize oganisers said the agreement with Baillie Gifford would provide “substantial support” over an initial five-year period, which will enable it to “build its profile and impact, both nationally and internationally.” It first announced it was looking for a new sponsor in May this year following the conclusion of an "open-ended" arrangement with an anonymous donor which has funded the prize for the past three years.
The award will continue to advance the idea that “all the best stories are true”, and will now set its sights on becoming “the most pre-eminent solus non-fiction book award in the world.”
Stuart Proffitt, chair of the prize, said: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Baillie Gifford, a firm whose partners care about books and culture as much we do and with which we believe we can develop a strong partnership. We now have the resources to expand our activities and aim to become the leading non-fiction book prize in the world.”
Lord King of Lothbury, former governor of the Bank of England and member of the steering committee of the Samuel Johnson Prize, added: “I am confident that the Samuel Johnson Prize will be much strengthened under the aegis of Baillie Gifford. The prize has done a superb job drawing attention to outstanding non-fiction books for many years. The capacity now to enhance its activities and in particular, to extend its reach into the US, is much to be welcomed.”
Baillie Gifford already sponsors the Hay Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Argentinian Ballerina Luciana Ravizzi and David Bailey’s ‘Stardust’ exhibition.
Sarah Whitley, partner of Baillie Gifford and chair of its sponsorship committee, said: “Our long term commitment to the prize reflects our belief in the importance of supporting key literary and cultural events, and I am pleased that we have now added such an eminent award to our other literary relationships. We look forward to working with the prize organisers and will continue to advance its motto that ‘all the best stories are true’.”
The non-fiction award aims to recognise and reward the very best in high quality non-fiction, and is open to books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts. Authors of any nationality whose work is published in the UK in English in any given year, are eligible.
This year, the £20,000 prize was given to Steve Silberman for Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently (Allen & Unwin).
Organisers said they are not announcing any changes to the prize money for the time being.