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Slightly Foxed and The Biographers’ Club are delighted to announce the shortlist for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2023

This is the 10th year that Slightly Foxed – publishers of the literary journal Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly and an acclaimed list of limited-edition cloth-bound memoirs, and producers of the well-loved literary podcast – has sponsored the Prize.

The Prize awards £2,500 to the judges’ choice of the best first biography published each year. The winner will be announced at a prize-giving celebration on Tuesday 19th March 2024.

Click here to download the press release.


  • Leah Broad, Quartet: How Four Women Changed the Musical World (Faber & Faber)

    When do four soloists become a quartet? When they are female composers collected together in creative tension by Leah Broad in this captivating group biography. Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clark, Dorothy Howell and Doreen Carwithen were all trailblazers in a musical world largely dominated by the works of dead white men, and Broad’s study of these remarkable composers, while full of amusing anecdotes, is quietly devastating about their treatment by the male establishment, then and now.

  • Honor Cargill-Martin, Messalina: The Life and Times of Rome’s Most Scandalous Empress (Head of Zeus)

    In this accomplished historical debut, Emperor Claudius’s third wife Messalina is set free from the notoriety that has dogged her reputation. Looking beyond the salacious anecdotes, Cargill-Martin reveals a woman battling to assert herself in the overwhelmingly male world of Imperial Rome. Intelligent, passionate and sometimes ruthless, Messalina’s story often reads like a thriller, but it captures her humanity with wit and precision.

  • Daniel Finkelstein, Hitler, Stalin, Mum and Dad (William Collins)

    From a leading political commentator, a powerful memoir of his family’s extraordinary fate at the hands of both the Nazis and the Soviets – as an outcome of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939. A deeply personal, moving and horrifying account of persecution and almost miraculous survival in the midst of two genocidal regimes, showing how the unusual bravery of two families shone and ultimately won through all that was ranged against them.

  • Aasmah Mir, A Pebble in the Throat: Growing up between Two Continents (Headline)

    This bittersweet memoir of growing up in Glasgow is interwoven with the story of Aasmah’s mother, and her journey from Pakistan to Scotland in the 1960s. Unravelling the immigrant experience, it shows how the wheels of progress could often stick, and how much courage and humour is needed to find one’s place in the world.

  • Emmett de Monterey, Go the Way Your Blood Beats (Viking)

    When Emmett de Monterey is 18 months old, he is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Growing up in south-east London, he is spat at on the street, and prayed over at church. At his sixth-form college for disabled students, he is told he will be expelled if the rumours are true, that he is gay. Supposedly life-changing surgery on his legs in America failed to change his life, and this vivid, affecting memoir he faces with clear-eyed intensity what it is to live the only life you have, even when it falls short of expectations.


PHILIP EADE is the author of three biographies, Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters (2007), Young Prince Philip (2011) and Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited (2016), all of which appeared in The Sunday Times’s ten best biographies of the year; the last two were also Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4.

SUE GAISFORD reviewed non-fiction for the Economist for twenty years before moving to The Independent.  She now reviews for the Financial Times and the Tablet, where she became Literary Editor.

CLARE MULLEY is an award-winning author and broadcaster. Her three books, The Woman Who Saved the Children, The Spy Who Loved and The Women Who Flew for Hitler, are all under option and widely translated. Clare writes and reviews for various papers including the Spectator and the TLS, and has twice been chair of the judges for the Historical Writers Association non-fiction prize.

For more information about Slightly Foxed or The Biographers’ Club

Contact Stephanie Allen/Jennie Harrison-Bunning at Slightly Foxed [email protected]
Contact Ariane Bankes/Nick Clee at The Biographers’s Club [email protected]

The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize | Shortlist 2023

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