Skip to Content

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

First Biblit festival in March

There is strong Biographers’ Club interest in the first Bibury Literary Festival, which takes place in the Cotswolds town on Saturday 23 March. Former Club Chairman Anne de Courcy has, with three friends, set it up; and current Chairman Jane Ridley will be among the speakers.


Anne de Courcy says: “[Biblit] will differ from other festivals in that tickets will be much cheaper – a full day and evening pass, covering six sessions, with wine and canapés during the last one, costs only £35 – and in its atmosphere. Bibury, on the river Coln in the heart of the Cotswolds, is one of the most beautiful villages in England.”

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

Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize – the presentation

Members are invited to the presentation of the 2018 Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize. Books by Bart van Es, Michele Mendelssohn, Roland Philipps, Fiona Sampson and Tara Westover are in contention for the £2,000 prize. Further details here.

Tuesday 26 February

Maggs Bros, 48 Bedford Square, WC1B 3DR


Please book (no fee) with

Slightly Foxed Best First Biography 2018 shortlist

Bart van Es, Michele Mendelssohn, Roland Philipps, Fiona Sampson and Tara Westover are on the shortlist for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize. The £2,500 prize is sponsored by the literary quarterly Slightly Foxed. The judges are authors Anne Chisholm, Rachel Cooke and Andrew O’Hagan. They will announce their winner at a ceremony at Maggs Bros in Bedford Square on Tuesday 26 February.

Bart van Es, The Cut Out Girl (Fig Tree)
A powerful, harrowing story about a young girl’s struggle to survive Nazi persecution, and a man’s attempt to unravel his family secrets.

Roland Philipps, A Spy Named Orphan (Bodley Head)
This gripping retelling of the life of Soviet spy Donald Maclean reveals a man with an extraordinary appetite for self-destruction.

Michele Mendelssohn, Making Oscar Wilde (OUP)
This compelling account of Wilde’s rise, fall and resurrection draws on new archives and rare documents to tell the story from an entirely fresh perspective.

Fiona Sampson, In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein (Profile)
Two hundred years after the writing of the gothic masterpiece, poet Fiona Sampson brings all her considerable skills to a nuanced and revelatory reading of the girl behind that extraordinary creation.

Tara Westover, Educated (Hutchinson)
The unforgettable memoir of escaping from a desperate Mormon fundamentalist childhood in Idaho through books and study – “an education”.

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).

Biographers’ Tales

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

Special Joining offer at The London Library
1 month’s free membership: 12 months for the price of 11, saving £42.
Those seeking a peaceful place to write, read and research need look no further than The London Library.
Long regarded as an essential home-from-home for writers, The London Library was founded by writer Thomas Carlyle and has been a source of inspiration for generations of authors, poets and playwrights for over 175 years.
From Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Lord Tennyson to Agatha Christie, Siegfried Sassoon and T.S. Eliot, The London Library is a haven for all authors, including many of our leading contemporary authors and playwrights, from Sarah Waters and Bill Bryson to Victoria Hislop and Tom Stoppard.
For anyone who loves books and the written word, The London Library is the perfect place in which to work, research and be inspired.
Everyone is welcome to join.