The 2019 Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize was awarded to Jonathan Phillips for The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin at a party on Tuesday 10 March at Maggs Bros. The winner was chosen by judges Suzi Feay, Maggie Fergusson and Jonathan Keates.
‘There could be no grander narrative than the story of Sultan Saladin and his counter-Crusade. Jonathan Phillips’s thoroughly absorbing biography takes on a period and an individual of daunting complexity and strangeness, weaving a tale worthy of a leader who proved inspirational to both East and West. The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin is grippingly written, wonderfully researched, and most of all, very relevant to today . . . Jonathan Phillips is a significant talent.’ Suzi Feay
‘Four richly inventive memoirs and two meticulously researched biographies took the judges from the height of the Crusades to the artistic and mercantile quarters of Elizabethan London; from the “milking shed” of a hospital unit for premature babies to life-drawing classes at the Slade at a period when the male gaze ruled; and into the lives of two poets, one a child in care in the late sixties and early seventies, the other attempting to piece together the post-Holocaust life of a troubled mother.’ The 2019 Judges