Samuel Johnson Prize: Biography of fascist Italian poet triumphs
Lucy Hughes-Hallett won the £20,000 prize for 'The Pike', which chronicles the life of Gabriele D’Annunzio
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Monday 04 November 2013
The biography of a “repellent” Italian poet and politician has picked up this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction beating Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher.
The £20,000 prize was awarded to Lucy Hughes-Hallett this evening for The Pike, which chronicles the life of Gabriele D’Annunzio.
The judges for the UK’s most prestigious non-fiction prize, celebrating its 15 anniversary, said The Pike “transcends the convention of biography”.
Ms Hughes-Hallett has written a book on Cleopatra which won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Her work beat Moore’s Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography, Volume One: Not for Turning and Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan by William Dalrymple.
The rest of the shortlist comprised Charlotte Higgins’ Under Another Sky, A Sting in The Tale by Dave Goulson and David Crane’s Empires of the Dead: How One Man’s Vision Led to the Creation of WW1’s War Graves.
The winning work followed the “dangerously charismatic” D’Annunzio as he journeyed from idealist romantic poetry to radical right-wing revolutionary and national hero.
Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and chair of the judges, praised the author’s “writing and her intricate crafting of the narrative”.
He continued that readers would be “transfixed by her vivid portrayal of D’Annunzio; how this repellent egotist quickly gained literary celebrity” and how his oratory influenced Italy’s involvement in the First World War and the rise of Mussolini.
The judging panel also included classicist Mary Beard, Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, historian Peter Hennessy and writer James McConnachie.
Last year the prize was won by Wade Davis for Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest. Past winners include Antony Beevor for Stalingrad and 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro.
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Avengers: Age of Ultron set to make box office history with $84.5m US opening
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Red Dwarf returns: Craig Charles quits Coronation Street to return to comedy sci-fi series
New on Netflix UK May 2015: From Fast & Furious 6 to World War Z and Grace and Frankie
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds