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Bart van Es at Hatchards

In conversation with Rachel Cooke

A Biographers’ Club/Slightly Foxed event at Hatchards with the winner of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize

Date: Wednesday 3 July 2019 more

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, 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 (

TLP winner’s Noble Savages launched

Cape and Sarah Watling launched her debut biography Noble Savages: The Olivier Sisters – Four Lives in Seven Fragments at Ink@84 bookshop in Highbury. more

Daisy Dunn on the Plinys

Daisy Dunn has followed her acclaimed biography of Catullus with In the Shadow of Vesuvius (William Collins). more

Member Jennifer Holmes publishes new book 

 Matador has recently published A Working Woman: The Remarkable Life of Ray Strachey by Club Member Jennifer Holmes, whose proposal for the book was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize in 2015. A leading feminist (and writer) of the early 20th century, Ray Strachey was a close colleague of both Millicent Fawcett and Nancy Astor, remembered in particular for her classic history of the Women’s Movement, The Cause (1928). She played a major role in gaining many women the vote in 1918, stood for Parliament three times, and devoted much of her life to fostering employment opportunities for women. Alongside this she was a working mother with overwhelming family responsibilities and an unusual (some said eccentric) private life on the fringes of the Bloomsbury set. Based on extensive research, the book is the first full biography of Ray Strachey, illuminating not only her fascinating life but also the social and political worlds to which she belonged.

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).

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


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).