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The Baillie Gifford Prize 2019 announces longlist

The Baillie Gifford Prize 2019 announces longlist


The longlist for the £50, 000 Bailie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, which celebrates the best in non-fiction writing, is announced today, Thursday 12 September.

The twelve titles on this year’s longlist are:

  • I Will Never See the World Again, Ahmet Altan translated by Yasemin Çongar (Granta Books)
  • Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, Casey Cep (William Heinemann)
  • On Chapel Sands, Laura Cumming (Chatto & Windus)
  • The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company, William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed, Catrina Davies (Riverrun)
  • The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, William Feaver (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment, Amelia Gentleman (Guardian Faber)
  • Maoism: A Global History, Julia Lovell (The Bodley Head)
  • The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell's 1984, Dorian Lynskey (Picador)
  • Guest House for Young Widows, Azadeh Moaveni (Scribe UK)
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, Hallie Rubenhold (Doubleday)
  • The Outlaw Ocean, Ian Urbina (Vintage)

This year’s 12-strong longlist, made up of an impressive variety of texts, ranges from court room drama and racial politics in Casey Cep's Furious Hours, to a glimpse into the lawless and vast nature of the high seas in Ian Ubrina's The Outlaw Ocean.

Three biographies of iconic creative figures from the twentieth-century feature this year, kicking off with the first part of a two volume biography, The Lives of Lucien Freud by William Feaver studies the artists connection to painting and the art world, but also his life and loves. Dorian Lynskey makes revelations about the cultural influences behind late writer George Orwell’s influential work and its constantly re-established interpretations in The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell’s 1984. The third of the biographies On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons sees art critic Laura Cummings using photographs and pictures to expose the truth as she pieces together the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, exposing the lies and deviances of the local community.

One of the two history titles this year The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple follows an imperialist theme starting from the fruition of the company’s operations in India, which began as a key trading partner, to its development into a colonial antagonist. In the second of the two historiographical titles Maoism: A Global History, Julia Lovell reconsiders the impact of the authoritative ideology at a time when the relationship between China and the West was at the forefront of world politics.

Azadeh Moaveni focuses on a consistently pertinent subject internationally, the threat of the Islamic State in Guest House for Young Widows, where he meets a diverse group of young women of different nationalities, who make the choice to join IS, and tells their stories. If it’s ideology that connects these women, then those involved in Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, must purely be bound through circumstance.

The final three books hold great relevance in the contemporary world. In Journalist Amelia Gentleman’s book The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment she details her expose of the scandal that shocked the nation, leading onto the Home Secretary’s resignation in 2018, meanwhile in Catherine Davies Homesick, she reflects on the housing crisis, grappling with class, economics, mental health and nature. The longlist is rounded off with I will Never See the World Again, an emotive book by currently imprisoned Turkish Journalist and Author Ahmet Altan, exploring themes of the dissolution of human rights and the freedom to write.

Stig Abell, chair of judges, says:
"It's been a summer of reading with unbridled pleasure, and I think we've ended up with a longlist of books that are - by turns - provocative, magisterial and beautiful pieces of work.  Above all, they are companionable: stories to which you are happy to turn and return, some with contemporary resonances, others that are more timeless.  Going from twelve down to six and then picking a winner is going to be a bit of a challenge."

The longlist has been chosen by a panel chaired by Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell who is joined by Dr Myriam Francois, TV producer and writer; Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, professor of English Literature; Frances Wilson, critic and biographer; Petina Gappah, writer and lawyer and Dr Alexander Van Tulleken  BMBCh MPH, doctor and TV presenter.

The shortlist for the 2019 award will be announced on Tuesday 22 October.


The winner of the 2019 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction will be announced on Tuesday 19 November at an awards dinner at the Science Museum generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.


The winner will receive £50,000 and each of the shortlisted authors will receive £1,000.


Last year’s winner was Serhii Plokhy for Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy, which was subsequently included in several national book of the year round ups and selected as a Waterstones non-fiction book of the month.

The Bailie Gifford Prize 2019 longlist


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