2013 Judges announcement
Lord (Martin) Rees, Astronomer Royal, to chair “dream team” of judges for The 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in its 15th anniversary year
Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, is to chair the judges for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the UK’s leading non-fiction prize, in its fifteenth year. He will be joined by classicist Mary Beard, Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti, historian Peter Hennessy, and writer and non-fiction reviewer James McConnachie.
Martin Rees comments: “I'm delighted and honoured to be chairing such a distinguished panel in the year of the fifteenth anniversary of the UK’s premier non-fiction prize. This is my ‘dream team’, bringing together a wealth of expertise, and we’re looking forward to reading some brilliant books.”
Judges for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2013
Martin Rees (Chair), Lord Rees of Ludlow, is Astronomer Royal, and was until recently Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He was President of the Royal Society for the period 2005-10. After a spell as professor at Sussex University, he moved to Cambridge where he has held various posts, including ten years as Director of the Institute of Astronomy.
He has received many awards, and has served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control and international science. He has been a trustee of the British Museum, the Science Museum, the IPPR and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.
Apart from his technical writing, he has written hundreds of general articles, and has broadcast and lectured extensively. He has written eight books for general readership, including Before the Beginning, Gravity's Fatal Attraction
(winner of US Science Writing Prize), Just Six Numbers, Our Final Century? (longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize), and From Here to Infinity: Scientific Horizons, an expanded version of his 2010 BBC Reith Lectures.
Mary Beard is a Professor of Classics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. She is the author of several books, her most recent being Pompeii, The Life of a Roman Town, and Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations. She is currently completing a book on Roman laughter, based on her Sather Classical Lectures at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also Classics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement. In 2010 she presented the BBC 2 series Pompeii: Life and Death in a Roman Town and in 2012 she wrote and presented Meet the Romans with Mary Beard. Mary was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to classical scholarship.
Shami Chakrabarti has been Director of Liberty since September 2003. A Barrister by background, she worked as a lawyer in the Home Office from 1996 until 2001 for Governments of both persuasions. Since becoming Liberty’s Director she has written, spoken and broadcast widely about Liberty’s work on equality, human rights and the rule of law. She is Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, a Governor of the British Film Institute, a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford and a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple. She was one of 6 independent assessors advising Lord Justice Leveson in his Public Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the UK Press.
Peter Hennessy, Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield, is a non-party crossbench peer and Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary, University of London. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2003. He spent twenty years as a journalist for the THES, The Times, Financial Times and The Economist, amongst others. He is the author of several books, including Never Again: Britain, 1945-51, which was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize and NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction (precursor of the Samuel Johnson Prize) in 1993, and his most recent book Distilling the Frenzy: Writing the History of one’s own times. He was a regular presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Analysis programme from 1987 to 1992. In 1986 he co-founded the Institute of Contemporary British History.
James McConnachie reviews non-fiction for The Sunday Times and edits The Author, the quarterly journal of the Society of Authors. He wrote a critically acclaimed study of the Kamasutra, The Book of Love, and is the author of numerous travel guides and reference books. He is a director of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund (he teaches writing at Southampton University) and, much to his delight, an agony uncle for Metro newspaper.