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The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014 longlist

The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014 longlist

The fifteen titles on the longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014, celebrating the best in non-fiction writing, are announced today, Tuesday 2 September. 

The fifteen titles on this year’s longlist are:

•           John Campbell, Roy Jenkins, Jonathan Cape

•           John Carey, The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life, Faber & Faber

•           Jessie Childs, God's Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England, Bodley Head

•           Marion Coutts, The Iceberg: A Memoir, Atlantic   

•           Nick Davies, Hack Attack, Random House

•           Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, Profile Books

•           Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity, Oneworld

•           Alison Light, Common People, Fig Tree

•           Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk, Jonathan Cape

•           Henry Marsh, Do No Harm, Weidenfeld & Nicolson

•           Jonathan Meades, An Encyclopaedia of Myself, 4th Estate

•           Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France, Chatto & Windus

•           Adam Nicolson, The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters, William Collins

•           Jenny Uglow, In These Times, Faber & Faber

•           Ben Watt, Romany and Tom: A Memoir, Bloomsbury

Memoirs prevail, with a widow's searing and humane account of her husband's loss of speech and death, a professor’s account of a life in literature, an insight in to the life and work of a neurosurgeon, a woman’s story of training a goshawk, reflections on a vanished provincial England and a post-war portrait of the parents of musician Ben Watt. The single biography is of politician Roy Jenkins.

Histories cover periods as diverse as Catholic martyrs in Elizabethan England, a slave rebellion, an extraordinary exploration of family through generations of obscurity and poverty, the story of Jewish children hidden in Vichy France, an account of Homer and the relevance of his poems today, and life in Britain during the Napoleonic wars. Bringing us right in to the twenty-first century is an account of the recent phone hacking scandal and an exploration of how we might give people good care at the end of their lives.  

Claire Tomalin, chair of judges, comments:

‘I was hoping for some surprises, and the biggest one is that my fellow judges and I have chosen more memoirs for our long list than any other type of book - six out of the total of 15 - and just one biography:  all human life is here. 

‘We have two medical works, a touch of wildlife, some deplorable current affairs and one dazzling piece of extended literary criticism. History brings five titles: ranging from Jewish children in World War Two France to slave rebellion during the Napoleonic wars - plus an exploration of an English family tree the like of which has never been made before.

‘We had a lot of arguments, but our disagreements were friendly as well as fierce, and we are still on speaking terms.  And yes, the books on the longlist show that non-fiction is certainly stranger and wilder than fiction.’

The longlist has been chosen by judges author and historian Claire Tomalin (chair), accompanied by Alan Johnson MP, Financial Times Books Editor Lorien Kite, philosopher Ray Monk and historian Ruth Scurr.

The winner of the 2014 prize will be announced on Tuesday 4 November, following the shortlist announcement on 9 October. The winner of last year’s prize was The Pike, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (4th Estate), which has since gone on to win the 2013 Costa Book Award (Biography).

The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2014 longlist

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