Prisoners win best reading group prize

The High Down Prison Group in Surrey has been named the winner of the Penguin/Orange Reading Group Prize. The prize would normally be a trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival, which starts next week, so instead the prisoners have been paid a visit by the best-selling author Nick Hornby and will receive £200 worth of book vouchers.

The nine women of the Isle of Islay Book Group, which came second, will be making the trip from the west coast of Scotland to Edinburgh.

Six reading groups from across the UK were shortlisted for the prize. Now in its fourth year, judges aim to award groups that show individuality and diversity of reading choices.

A spokeswoman for the award confirmed the all-male group of about a dozen prisoners were still the official winners. The Islay women will attend a celebrity panel event and meet a Penguin author. A group member, Diana Buller, said she and her group were "delighted".

One member of the prisoners' group, known as Jamie, said the chance to meet Hornby for a reading session on his book, A Long Way Down, was "incredible". Another member described their group as being "a breath of fresh air; a monthly release when close to despair".

High Down is a category B jail and is understood to house some criminals serving life sentences.

Bram Stoker's Dracula and Patrick Suskind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer were among the group's reading material.

Prison librarian and book group founder Kay Hadwick said: "The reading group based at High Down Prison operates in a trusting environment where disagreement in reading choices never results in confrontation. The reading group offers members a relaxed forum to discuss books and enables prisoners to escape ... prison life."

The other four shortlisted groups were the Black Reading Group in Walsall, Congleton NWR Book Group in Cheshire, Liverpool's Crosby Reading Group and Red Deer Readers in Sheffield.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen