Claudia Renton wins 2014 Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize

The winner of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2014 (£3,500) is Claudia Renton, for THOSE WILD WYNDHAMS: THREE SISTERS AT THE HEART OF POWER (Collins).

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, who judged the Prize with Jane Ridley and Anthony Sattin, said: “Claudia Renton chose a richly interesting subject and in Those Wild Wyndhams she has done it proud. Mary, Madeline and Pamela Wyndham’s connections – familial, sexual and social – place them at the heart of a Britain which was brought to an end by the First World War. Through their love affairs and marriages, their house-parties and their patronage, the three sisters dominated a milieu where high society, high finance, politics and the arts were interconnected. Biography has been called the “higher gossip” – this book, ingeniously structured and written with fluency and wit, demonstrates how enjoyable, and how historically illuminating, high gossip can be.”

Claudia Renton gained a First at Oxford and was awarded the Gibbs Book Prize for Modern History. Now a practising barrister, she has also enjoyed a career as an actress, appearing with the RSC and at the National Theatre. She is co-author of Heroes with Simon Sebag Montefiore and was identified as one of the Guardian’s ‘new history girls’ and one of Vogue’s ‘Bright Stars’ of the next decade. She lives in London.

The complete shortlist for the Prize was:

  • FAISAL I OF IRAQ, Ali A Allawi (Yale)
  • HER BRILLIANT CAREER: TEN EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN OF THE FIFTIES, Rachel Cooke (Virago)
  • DO NO HARM: STORIES OF LIFE, DEATH AND BRAIN SURGERY, Henry Marsh (Weidenfeld)
  • WELLINGTON: THE PATH TO VICTORY, Rory Muir (Yale)
  • THOSE WILD WYNDHAMS: THREE SISTERS AT THE HEART OF POWER, Claudia Renton (Collins)

This is the first year of sponsorship of the Prize by Slightly Foxed, the literary quarterly. For further information, go to www.foxedquarterly.com.
Photo: Claudia Renton (centre) with (from left) Anthony Sattin, Gail Pirkis of Slightly Foxed, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, and Jane Ridley.