Awards Notes: Giles Tremlett Wins Elizabeth Longford, Sisters in Crime Changes Rules

In News by Porter Anderson

‘The stratagems of politics, marriage, war, dynastic calculation, and religious oppression,’ say the jurors, put Giles Tremlett over the top for the Elizabeth Longford Prize. And Sisters in Crime makes a change in who can apply for the Eleanor Taylor Bland grant.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Scholarly Authority and Vivid Accessibility’

The author Giles Tremlett has won the 2018 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography for his book, Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen (Bloomsbury, September 2017).

Tremlett is a Madrid-based contributing editor with The Guardian and a fellow with the Cañada Blanch Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He’s the second UK journalist to be honored with a book award this week, following Richard Lloyd Parry’s win of the Rathbones Folio Prize.

In announcing the honor, its administrator, the Society of Authors in London, says that the prize carries a £5,000 purse (US$6,779) and will be officially conferred on July 19 at the society’s 2018 Authors’ Awards program.

The jurors of the Longford Prize this year included chair Roy Foster, Antonia Fraser, Flora Fraser and Munro Price.

In the jurors’ rationale, Foster is quoted, saying that the shortlist for this year’s prize was “both formidable and varied.”

That shortlist included:

  • Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli’s Lifelong Quest for Freedom by Erica Benner (Allen Lane)
  • The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner by John Keay (Kashi House)
  • Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait by Victor Sebestyen (Weidenfeld and
  • Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi by Thomas Weber (Oxford University Press)

In the end, “The judges decided,” says Foster, “that Giles Tremlett’s Isabella of Castile resoundingly struck all the notes which we look for in a historical biography.

Giles Tremlett

Tremlett creates a panoramic landscape of 15th-century Spain, on the brink of its golden age, and paints a memorable portrait of the powerful woman who helped bring it about. The stratagems of politics, marriage, war, dynastic calculation, and religious oppression are carefully and deftly delineated, as is the tension between Isabella’s private and public lives.

“Above all, the impressive combination of scholarly authority and vivid accessibility establishes this biography firmly in the tradition of this prize.”

The Elizabeth Longford Prize is funded by Flora Fraser and Peter Soros in memory of Longford (1906 to 2002), who’s best remembered for her Victoria RI of 1964.

Last year’s winner was John Bew for Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee (RiverRun/Quercus).

Sisters in Crime Changes Eligibility Rules

Having opened its Eleanor Taylor Bland competition to submissions last month, the Sisters in Crime organization has changed the prize’s eligibility requirements.

Until now, the Bland award program has distinctive for its emphasis on (a) a work-in-progress by an as-yet unpublished author; (b) its focus on writers of color; and (c) the fact that both male and female writers are eligible, despite the prize’s administration by Sisters in Crime.

In a media message, the organizers say they’re changing the first of those three points. “An unpublished writer is preferred,” they say, “although publication of one work of short fiction, an academic work, or one or two self-published or traditionally published books will not disqualify an applicant.”

The organization’s folks call this “a slight tweak” in their messaging about it, but it’s actually substantial, considering that the prize was off-limits to anyone already published and now is not. It’s also unusual to see such a change made during the submissions period for an awards program.

The deadline for submissions remains June 15, and more information is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.