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The Biographers’ Club summer party – book now!

Monday 17 June, 6.30pm-8.30pm, at Clementi House
Join us for drinks, canapés, and music from the Wally Fawkes All Stars in the beautiful garden of an 18th-century house, graced by the spirits of Muzio Clementi and Felix Mendelssohn, in Kensington.

Tickets: £20 (members and guests)
Venue: Clementi House, 128 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4BH

Please book with nicholas_clee@hotmail.com, and/or send cheques (made out to the Biographers’ Club) to Nicholas Clee, 8 Plimsoll Road, London N4 2EW. Or pay online – details available on request.

Clementi House was the London home of Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), composer, pianist, and “Father of the Pianoforte” – see the Historic Houses Association website (www.hha.org.uk).

Tony Lothian Prize 2019 – call for entries

We are looking for submissions for the Tony Lothian Prize 2019, for the best proposal for a first biography. The deadline is 30 August 2019, and our judges this year are Alex Clark, Lindsay Duguid and Catharine Morris. The Tony Lothian Prize, run by the Biographers’ Club, is sponsored by the Duchess of Buccleuch in memory of her mother, Antonella, Marchioness of Lothian, OBE (1922-2007). Past winners have been successful in finding agents and publishers – just this year, Cape is to publish Noble Savages by Sarah Watling (2016 winner, out in June – further details here); and O’Mara is to publish John Woolf’s The Wonders: Lifting the Curtain on the Freak Show, Circus and Victorian Age (2017 winner; out in May).

2nd May 2019 – Keeping it in the family

What’s it like to write about a family member – either alive or dead? You have the advantage of knowing or having known the person – but there are all kinds of traps and hazards. On the 2nd of May the Biographers’ Club is thrilled to be hosting a discussion on this topic, chaired by Elisa Segrave (whose The Girl from Station X is about her mother).  On the panel will be Gillian Slovo, whose book Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country is about her parents Joe Slovo and Ruth First, South Africa’s pioneering anti-apartheid white activists; and George Szirtes, whose recent book about his mother, The Photographer at Sixteen, has been widely praised. You will be able to buy books on the night – but please bring cash or cheque.

Location:
Maggs Bros,
48 Bedford Square,
WC1B 3DR

Time: 6.30pm for 7.00-8.30pm

Price:  £12.50 for a glass (or two) of wine

Please book with nicholas_clee@hotmail.com, and/or send cheques (made out to the Biographers’ Club) to Nicholas Clee, 8 Plimsoll Road, London N4 2EW. Or pay online – details available on request.

TLP winner’s Noble Savages due in June

Cape is to publish on 6 June Noble Savages: The Olivier Sisters – Four Lives in Seven Fragments by Sarah Watling, whose proposal for the book won the Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian Prize (TLP) in 2016. Watling offers a group portrait of four women who intrigued figures including Rupert Brooke, DH Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. Margery and Daphne studied at Cambridge when education was still thought by some to be damaging to ovaries. Noel became a doctor; Daphne, a pioneering teacher; Margery’s promising trajectory was shot down by mental illness; Brynhild, the great beauty of the four, excelled as a Bloomsbury hostess, yet gave it up for love and a life of uncertainty.

Cape bills Noble Savages as “a compelling portrait of sisterhood in all its complexities, which rediscovers the lives of four extraordinary women within the varied fortunes of the feminism of their times, while illuminating the battles and ethics of biography itself”.

Noble Savages at Waterstones

Bart van Es wins Slightly Foxed prize

Bart van Es has won the £2,500 Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, for The Cut Out Girl (Fig Tree). The prize came a month after van Es’s book was named Costa Book of the Year. He received the £2,500 prize at a ceremony at Maggs Bros in Bedford Square.

The judges were authors Anne Chisholm, Rachel Cooke and Andrew O’Hagan. Chisholm said: “The winner, The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es, was chosen unanimously but not without passionate debate. This book, with its delicate interweaving of history, family memoir and personal encounters, succeeds in conveying the harsh reality of Holocaust survival more

Hermione Lee receives Exceptional Contribution award

Hermione Lee received the Biographers’ Club Exceptional Contribution to Biography award at an event at Maggs Bros in Bedford Square, more

What all biographers need to know – by the experts

 

Maggie Fergusson spoke to leading biographers – including several winners of the Biographers’ Club Exceptional Contribution to Biography award – as well as to publishers and agents to gain their insights into the nature of the genre. The contributors are:

 

Clare Alexander  Sarah Anderson  Anne de Courcy  Caroline Dawnay  Clara Farmer  Helen Fry  Edmund Gordon  Selina Hastings  Bea Hemming  Richard Holmes  Michael Holroyd  Lucy Hughes-Hallett  Julie Kavanagh  Sam Leith  Andrew Lownie  Blake Morrison  Jane Ridley  Philippe Sands  Adam Sisman  Claire Tomalin  Jenny Uglow  Sara Wheeler

more

Harriet Baker wins Tony Lothian Prize

The Tony Lothian Prize, for the best proposal for a first biography, has gone to Harriet Baker for Rural Hours: Interwar Female Writers, Landscape and Living. Baker received the £2,000 prize at the Biographers’ Club Christmas party, held at Albany in Central London.

Rural Hours is a collective biography that explores the rural lives of female writers – Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Rosamond Lehmann, Rose Macaulay and Dorothy Richardson – in the period covering the two world wars.

The judges were Alex Clark, Lindsay Duguid and Edmund Gordon. They said: “Harriet Baker’s proposal is rich in potential, promising to change our perspective on the writers in question, and refreshing in its radical approach.”

Baker grew up in Leicestershire, and now lives in London. Her book reviews appear regularly in the TLS, and she writes about art for the Financial Times, Apollo, and frieze. She studied English Literature at the University of Oxford, then at King’s College London. She is represented by Harriet Moore at David Higham Associates.

The Tony Lothian Prize, run by the Biographers’ Club, is sponsored by the Duchess of Buccleuch in memory of her mother, Antonella, Marchioness of Lothian, OBE (1922-2007).

Biographers’ Tales

A distinguished and articulate line-up of biographers was at the October Gallery on 1 November to help celebrate more