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Bart van Es The Cut Out Girl

Bart van Es wins The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize for The Cut Out Girl

Slightly Foxed and The Biographers’ Club are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2018 prize, chosen by judges Anne Chisholm, Rachel Cooke and Andrew O’Hagan, is The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es, already winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award.

Bart van Es is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Catherine’s College. He is the author of Spenser’s Forms of History, Shakespeare in Company, and Shakespeare’s Comedies.

Bart van Es left Holland for England many years ago, but one story from his Dutch childhood never left him. It was a mystery of sorts: a young Jewish girl named Lientje had been taken in during the war by relatives and hidden from the Nazis, handed over by her parents, only too aware of the danger they were in. The girl was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but well after the war there was a grave rift, and they were no longer in touch. What was the girl’s side of the story, Bart wondered? What really happened during the war, and after? So began an investigation that would consume the author’s life, and change it irrevocably.

The Cut Out Girl is a deeply moving reckoning with a young girl’s struggle for survival during war,  and a triumphant marriage of many keys of writing, ultimately blending them into an extraordinary new harmony, and a deeper truth.

‘The winner, The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es, was chosen unanimously but not without passionate debate. This book, with its delicate interweaving of history, family memoir and personal encounters, succeeds in conveying  the harsh reality of holocaust survival  through one young girl’s experience, in occupied Holland, of  the extremes – good as well as evil – of which ordinary people are capable.’ Anne Chisholm, for the judges

View press release

About the Prize

The Prize is awarded to the best book published by a first-time biographer or memoirist. The 2018 winner was announced at the Awards Ceremony, at Maggs Bros. Bedford Square. This is the fifth year of the literary quarterly and independent publisher Slightly Foxed’s sponsorship of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, with a winner’s award of £2,500. Previous winners: Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter; Hisham Matar, The Return; Alan Cumming, Not My Father’s Son; Claudia Renton, Those Wild Wyndhams; Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography; Thomas Penn, Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England; and Matthew Hollis, Now All Roads Lead to France.

2018 Shortlist

  • Bart van Es, The Cut Out Girl (Penguin, Fig Tree)
  • Michèle Mendelssohn, Making Oscar Wilde (OUP)
  • Roland Philipps, A Spy Named Orphan (Bodley Head)
  • Fiona Sampson, In Search of Mary Shelley (Profile)
  • Tara Westover, Educated (Hutchinson)

2018 Judges

  • Anne Chisholm is a writer and critic, and has written biographies of Nancy Cunard and Frances Partridge. She is former Chair of the Royal Society of Literature.
  • Rachel Cooke is a prize-winning journalist, writer and columnist at the Observer and television critic at the New Statesman.
  • Andrew O’Hagan is Editor-at-Large of the London Review of Books and Esquire. He writes fiction and non-fiction, and his most recent book is The Secret Life: Three True Stories.

The Biographers’ Club

Founded in 1997, the Club is committed to supporting, promoting and connecting biographers at all levels. It offers three prizes each year: the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize; the Tony Lothian Prize and the Exceptional Contribution to Biography Award. President: Andrew Lownie. Committee & Associates: Jane Ridley (Chairman); Sarah Anderson; Nicholas Clee; Caroline Knox; Anne de Courcy; Ariane Bankes (Prize Administrator) and Jane Mays. www.thebiographersclub.com

Slightly Foxed

Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly and its acclaimed list of classic limited-edition memoirs have become something of an institution in the literary world. Contributors to the magazine include: Diana Athill, Quentin Blake, Ronald Blythe, Margaret Drabble, Adam Foulds, Melissa Harrison, Michael Holroyd, Amy Liptrot, Penelope Lively, Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Dervla Murphy, Sarah Perry, Jane Ridley, Christopher Rush, Posy Simmonds, Adam Sisman and Ali Smith

‘A wonderful publication, at once unpretentious and lively, edifying and fun. It manages to be not only a superb guide to many excellent books but also to offer writing of its own that is remarkably entertaining.’ The Author

The Slightly Foxed series of memoirs includes works by: Edward Ardizzone, Adrian Bell, Jennie Erdal, Graham Greene, Diana Holman-Hunt, Michael Holroyd, Hilary Mantel, Gavin Maxwell, Jan Morris, Eric Newby, Ernest Shepard and Rosemary Sutcliff.

‘The business of reading should please the hand and eye as well as the brain, and Slightly Foxed editions – books or quarterly – are elegant creations. Content follows form, offering new discoveries and old favourites to curious and discriminating readers.’ Hilary Mantel


For more information about Slightly Foxed or the Prize please contact:

Steph Allen/Jennie Harrison Bunning
[email protected]
020 7729 9368; +44 20 7729 9368

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