Slightly Foxed and the Biographers’ Club are delighted to announce the shortlist for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2017. The prize of £2,500 will be awarded on 6 March with a drinks reception at The Library Club, St Martin’s Lane.
Thomas Dilworth, David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet (Jonathan Cape)
This comprehensive life of the great Modernist poet-artist David Jones is the fruit of a lifetime’s research and understanding, and brings new light to shine on Jones’s rare originality and genius.
Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography (Chatto & Windus)
In this finely judged and elegantly written biography, Gordon teases out the truth behind Angela Carter’s fictions about her own life, while recounting the brilliant and volatile career of this born writer, critic and fabulist.
Adam Kay, This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor (Picador)
A best-selling, no-holds-barred account of life at the coalface of the NHS by a comedian and former doctor, hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns.
Gareth Russell, Young & Damned & Fair: The Life & Tragedy of Catherine Howard (William Collins)
A stunning reappraisal of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, as scholarly as it is readable, that uses extensive research into her household to bring her chequered story vividly to life.
Helen Smith, The Uncommon Reader: A Life of Edward Garnett (Jonathan Cape)
An exemplary life of the writer and editor with a gift for spotting genius, champion of Conrad, Galsworthy, D.H. and T.E. Lawrence and Somerset Maugham, literary godfather to the Edwardian age.
James Stourton, Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilisation (William Collins)
As a new version of Civilisation comes to our screens, the complex figure of Kenneth Clark, aesthete, broadcaster, writer and cultural panjandrum, is dissected in this perceptive and entertaining biography.
The judges for this year’s prize are Caroline Moorehead, Ian Kelly and Sam Leith.
Caroline Moorehead has written biographies of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark, Iris Origo and Martha Gellhorn, and is currently at work on a quartet about resistance in France and Italy during the Second World War.
Ian Kelly is an actor, and author of lives of Beau Brummell, Casanova and Samuel Foote: his prize-winning Mr Foote’s Other Leg: Comedy, Tragedy and Murder in Georgian England was adapted for the stage with great success.
Sam Leith is Literary Editor of The Spectator.