Britain’s Oldest Book Prize Goes To Unknown Writers

September 9, 2008

University of Edinburgh CrestThe latest winners of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize have been awarded to two unknown writers, each collecting £10,000 for their works of fiction and biography.

Rosalind Belben’s Our Horses in Egypt won the fiction award, and Rosemary Hill’s God’s Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain won for biography.

The James Tait Black Memorial Prize is the oldest of its kind in Britain, having been awarded to works of fiction and biography since 1919. The prize is unique amongst literary awards, because it is judged by scholars and students of the University of Edinburgh.

Former winners of the prize include DH Lawrence, Muriel Spark, EM Forster, and Graham Greene.

Ms Hill, who took 15 years to complete her biography, said: “I first heard of this award not as a writer but as a reader, where I found it set like a seal on everything I most admired in biography. It has become a gold standard and I am thrilled and very honoured to have won it.”

Ms Belben, the fiction winner, said: “I’m very gratified and honoured. I’m also rather touched.”

Professor Colin Nicholson, a judge for the awards, said all the short listed books were worthy of the prize. He said: “The two books shone for their readability. Rosalind Belben’s novel was innovatively plotted and convincingly executed, while Rosemary Hill’s first book is a biography that does justice to the many facets of the man Augustus Pugin and his work.”

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Colin Galbraith writes articles and reviews on a wide variety of subjects. For more information please visit: http://freelance.colingalbraith.co.uk

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