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Members' News

Rolling news and notices from the club and its members, as well as items of interest from the world of biography.

Are you a Club member with news of your own? Get in touch to let us know about your book launches, rights deals, appearances, events, prizes and more, via our contact page.

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.”

Award for Phyllida Scrivens

Phyllida Scrivens has won the Biography & Memoir Prize at the East Anglian Book Awards 2018 for her group biography The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923-2017 (Pen & Sword). At a ceremony held in Norwich in November, Phyllida was awarded the trophy in front of seven of her “subjects”, former Lord Mayors who feature in the book. The East Anglian Book Awards are presented annually and sponsored by the National Centre for Writing, University of East Anglia and the Eastern Daily Press.

Clare Mulley’s TLP winner reissued

Clare Mulley’s first book, The Woman Who Saved the Children: A Biography of Eglantyne Jebb, Founder of Save the Children (Oneworld, 2009), is to be republished with a new cover, and a new introduction by the author, on 11 April, to mark the centenary of Save the Children.

The book won the Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian Prize (TLP), then sponsored by the Daily Mail, in 2007. All royalties go to Save the Children’s international programme work.

People’s Book Prize winter 18/19 contenders

Titles by two Biographers’ Club members, Philippa Bernard (Mithras to Mormon, Shepheard-Walwyn) and Jane Dismore (Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II, Thistle), are longlisted in the winter collection of the People’s Book Prize. Voting is open now, and remains open until 15 March. You can vote for them here:

Ian Strathcarron – Crikey!

Ian Strathcarron, biographer and chairman of the Unicorn Publishing Group, has written a biography of a man about whom we know surprisingly little: Sir Bertram Wooster, KG. In Crikey! How Did That Happen?, Strathcarron fills in the gaps that PG Wodehouse left. Ten chapters centre on incidents throughout Wooster’s life: education at Malvern House, Eton and Oxford; pursuing a musical career in the south of France, in a milieu also including Alfred Hitchcock and Somerset Maugham; wartime captivity, in common with his creator but at the hands of the Italians; adventures in Hollywood. The final chapter is a murder mystery set on Mustique in the Seventies. As for Jeeves: he graduates from employment by Wooster to work in the Royal Household.

Strathcarron says: “Wodehouse never mentioned any dates, but it is generally accepted that the stories take place in the late ‘20s when Bertie was also in his late 20s. I therefore imagined him born in 1900 and take it forward seven years at a time from then.

“In the stories Wodehouse makes many references to Bertie’s childhood and schooling and I have included all of these in the early chapters. Of course from 1928 onwards I’ve made it all up, on the basis that while the main plot is pure fiction all the subplots are real events.”

Rasheed Kidwai – Neta Abhineta

Rasheed Kidwai’s new book, Neta Abhineta: Bollywood Star Power in Indian Politics, has just come out from Hachette India. It gives biographical sketch of 18 Indian film stars who have entered the Indian parliament. “With an eye for detail and an elephantine memory, Kidwai makes a compelling raconteur,” says the Indian Express.

The Extraordinary Life of E Nesbit

By Elisabeth Galvin

Published by Pen & Sword History, October 2018

A ground breaker in every sense, the Edwardian author Edith Nesbit (1858 – 1924) changed children’s books forever with her much-loved novels, The Railway Children and Five Children and It. Her stories of female heroines, magic, adventure and time travel continue to influence children’s literature more than a century later. Her personal life was every bit as colourful as her fiction. As a cigar-smoking socialist, she was a founder of the Fabian Society and George Bernard Shaw and HG Well frequented her wild bohemian parties. Author Elisabeth Galvin has included an acknowledgement to the Biographers’ Club in this book. She is appearing at the Yeovil Literary Festival, The Johnson Studio, Octagon Theatre, Yeovil, Dorset, on 28 October at 2pm, admission £5; and at the Richmond Literature Festival Dorset, Hampton Library, London, on 15 November, at 7.30pm.

BIO and Washington Biography Group member Dr. Stephen H. Grant is coming for a rare visit to the UK in October to lectures on his new biography about the founders of of Folger Shakespeare Library.
Johns Hopkins University Press in Baltimore released Dr. Stephen H. Grant’s biography, Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger, on the Ides of March 2014 to coincide with the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth in 1564. It is the first biography of the quiet, secretive Brooklyn couple who founded in 1932 the Folger Shakespeare Library, housing the largest Shakespeare collection in the world in a stunning marble memorial two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. 
Dr. Stephen Grant will be giving a series of lectures in October 2017 based on his biography of the founders of the Folger Shakespeare Library in which he will share aspects of the trips the Folgers took to England.


11 October 8:00pm
8 PM Talk #1 Blackheath Halls 
Blackheath Halls Recital Room, 23 Lee Rd, London SE3 9RQ

13 October 
5 PM Talk #2 St Andrews Library  
St Andrews University Library, North Street, St Andrews KY16 9TR

16 October
5:15 PM Talk #3 at Oxford Bibliographic Society 
Oxford Bibliographic Society, Christ Church Upper Library, Oxford OX1 3BG
(introduced by Henry Woudhuysen, Rector of Lincoln College)

20 October
4:30 PM Talk #4 Cambridge University Library
Cambridge University Lib., Milstein Room, West Road CB3 9DR

23 October
7:30 PM Talk #5 Bath Royal Lit & Sci Inst 
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute Elwin Room, 16 Queen Sq., Bath BA1 1BA

26 October
2 PM Talk #6 Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HP

Grant is guest blogger ( for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England and for the Johns Hopkins University Press (

Former chairman of the Biographers’ Club Anne de Courcy’s latest book is published here by Weidenfeld & Nicolson) and in Australia on Thursday 1 June. The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York tells the story of the thirty-year period – roughly between 1875 and 1905,and known as the Gilded Age – during which over hundred American girls married into the peerage;  and the real reasons behind the obvious one of cash for coronets. Anne will be speaking at various festivals round the country and American publication will take place in the late spring of next year.

The Biographers’ Club member Gill Blanchard has had her first biography published. Lawson Lies Still in the Thames: The Extraordinary Life of Vice-Admiral Sir John Lawson was published by Amberley Publishing a couple of weeks ago. You can find details at:

There will also be a book launch at Jarrolds in Norwich on 13 July at 6pm. See:

Other events will be taking place later this year, including an exhibition about John Lawson at the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre.