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Craig Brown’s One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time wins 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction

Craig Brown’s One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time wins 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction

Bestselling author and veteran journalist Craig Brown wins £50,000 for his kaleidoscopic biography of the Beatles.
 
Craig Brown is tonight named the winner of the £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2020 for One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time published by 4th Estate. 
 
In One Two Three Four, Craig Brown creates an entirely new form of biography. He captures the serendipities that brought the fab four together and catapulted them to world fame, as well as telling the story of those who came into their orbit, giving a vivid and revealing insight into the world of the swinging 60s.
 
Craig said in an interview for The Baillie Gifford Prize website that his aim was to convey the fun and excitement of the Beatles' era, and felt that this would be best conveyed in a multiplicity of short chapters juxtaposed like prisms, to form a kaleidoscope.
 
Craig Brown is the author of 18 books, and a prolific journalist. He has been writing his parodic diary in Private Eye since 1989. He’s the only person ever to have won three different Press Awards – for best humorist, columnist and critic – in the same year. He has been a columnist for, among others, The Guardian, The Times, The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph. He currently writes for The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. His last book, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret won an international bestseller and won the James Tait Black Memorial Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Award. 
 
Martha Kearney, chair of the judges, says:
“In the deep gloom of 2020, we have discovered a shaft of light. One Two Three Four is a joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration of The Beatles, a highly original take on familiar territory. It’s also a profound book about success and failure which won the unanimous support of our judges. Craig Brown has reinvented the art of biography.” 
 
Martha Kearney was joined on the 2020 judging panel by fellow BBC presenter, professor and author Shahidha Bari, editor and novelist Simon Ings, New Statesman writer Leo Robson, New York Times opinion editor Max Strasser and journalist and author Bee Wilson.
 
Charles Plowden, senior partner at Baillie Gifford says:
“In the year that has been like no other, the quality and breadth of non-fiction writing remains excellent. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors, and to Craig Brown on winning this year’s prize. A worthy winner, and a book that can help provide some welcomed escapism from the current situation”.
 
Judges’ comment:  “Craig Brown has miraculously found a way to take the most familiar of subjects – The Beatles – and to turn it into an entirely fresh composite biography, one that is both sadder and funnier than in any previous account of the band.  This is not just a book about John, Paul, Ringo and George but about many of the other surprising twentieth-century lives they touched, from Brigitte Bardot to the Ronettes, from Charles Manson to the Queen.”
 
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction’s podcast series Read Smart will be releasing a winner episode, featuring an interview with Craig Brown with host Razia Iqbal, available from Friday 27 November.
 
Alongside One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time the other titles on this year’s shortlist were:
· The Idea of the Brain: A History by Matthew Cobb (Profile Books)
· Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh (Penguin Random House, Allen Lane) 
· Our Bodies Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women by Christina Lamb (Harper Collins, William Collins) 
· The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale (Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Circus) 

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