You are here

Shortlist announced for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction

Shortlist announced for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction

Politics and poetry, war and remembrance, Romans and bees

At a time when non-fiction is outselling fiction*, the judges are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the UK’s leading non-fiction book prize.

The shortlist includes the story of the building of the great First World War cemeteries, a history of the first Afghan War, an account of the importance of bees, the tale of a journey by camper van to discover the meaning of Roman Britain, and biographies of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. 

Martin Rees, chair of the judges, said:

“On the shortlist are six titles: they are very different, but each has enlightened and entertained the judges. The authors have conveyed specialised (and in some cases unfamiliar) subjects in a refreshing and readable way, revealing new perspectives. These finely written, highly accessible and stimulating books all deserve a wide readership.”

The six titles on this year’s shortlist are:

·         Empires of the Dead: How One Man's Vision Led to the Creation of WW1's War Graves, David Crane (William Collins)               

·         Return of a King, William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury)

·         A Sting In The Tale, Dave Goulson (Jonathan Cape)

·         Under Another Sky, Charlotte Higgins (Jonathan Cape) 

·         The Pike, Lucy Hughes-Hallett (4th Estate)           

·         Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not for Turning, Charles Moore (Allen Lane)           

The shortlist was chosen by Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal (chair of judges); classicist, Mary Beard; Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti; historian, Peter Hennessy; and writer and non-fiction reviewer, James McConnachie.

The shortlisted authors will appear in events at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday 6 October, chaired by Guardian Literary Editor Claire Armitstead, and at the Southbank Centre on Sunday 3 November, chaired by Tom Sutcliffe.

This year’s winner will be announced on 4 November at the prize annual dinner at RIBA. The winner of the prize, the UK’s leading non-fiction prize, will receive £20,000.

The BBC Culture Show will broadcast pieces about the six shortlisted books on 30 October, at 10.00pm on BBC 2. BBC Radio 4’s World at One will broadcast a series of interviews with the shortlisted authors in the lead-up to the winner announcement.

The winner of last year’s prize was Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis, published by The Bodley Head.

*The Bookseller bestseller charts, 20 September 2013 

LATEST NEWS

The judging panel for the 2017 Baillie Gifford...
Philippe Sands
On 15 November Philippe Sands won the Baillie...
Earlier this week, Philippe Sands won the 2016...
East West Street
Philippe Sands has been named the winner of The...