This year's shortlist

A Pulitzer Prize winner heads the writers vying for Britain’s oldest literary awards.

American historian and critic Manning Marable, who was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize, has been shortlisted in the biography category for the James Tait Black Prizes.

Marable’s book - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention - was published just three days after his death in April 2011.

He is among four writers listed for the £10,000 best biography prize - one of two prizes awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh for books published during the previous year.

The other biographical works on the shortlist are:

  • Ben Jonson: A Life by Ian Donaldson
  • The Last Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination by Fiona MacCarthy
  • Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life by Susie Harries, which also won the 2011 Wolfson History Prize.

Fiction on show

ManBooker Prize nominee A.D. Miller is one of four writers listed in the best work of fiction category, which also carries a £10,000 prize.

London-born Miller, a former journalist for The Economist, is listed for his debut novel Snowdrops.

The three other novels competing for the fiction prize are:

  • Solace by Belinda McKeon
  • You and I by Padgett Powell
  • There But For The by Ali Smith, who is nominated here for the second time.

The quality of works we considered this year was top notch, which made the shortlisting process even more difficult.

Professor Jonathan Wild

Deputy Director for University's Centre for the History of the Book

A long and colourful history

The James Tait Black Prizes are the only major British book awards judged by scholars and students of Literature.

Founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, the prizes commemorate her deceased husband’s love of good books.

Past winners are a who’s who of the writing world, including D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Cormac McCarthy and Ian McEwan.

Last year’s winners were Tatjana Soli for The Lotus Eaters and Hilary Spurling for Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China.

Celebrating 250 years of English Literature

The winners will be announced as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday August 25.

The event will also see the announcement of ‘The Best of James Tait Black Prize’, a special award as part of the 250th English Literature anniversary at the University, celebrating the fiction winners from the past 93 years.

Professor Jonathan Wild, Deputy Director for the University’s Centre for the History of the Book, said the shortlist was as illustrious - and diverse - as previous years.

It promises to be a memorable year for the Prizes as we celebrate the 250th anniversary of English Literature at the University.

Professor Jonathan Wild

Deputy Director for the University’s Centre for the History of the Book


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