Annal: 1983 Whitbread Book Award for Biography

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 1983.

Book:King George V

King George V

Kenneth Rose

Kenneth Rose’s life of King George V is recognised as one of the great twentieth-century biographies. The grandfather of Elizabeth II embarked on his 25-year reign (1910-1936) in the last confident glow of the Victorian Age. At heart a lover of hearth and home, he sustained the nation throughout the Great War and the political crises of an uneasy peace. It is due to George V’s inspired common sense that the House of Windsor survived while other thrones and empires fell like autumn leaves. But then, as his funeral cortege turned into New Palace Yard the Maltese Cross fell from the Crown and landed in the gutter. “A most terrible omen” wrote Harold Nicolson. And indeed it was.

This sensitive portrait of the king is based on unpublished extracts from his diaries and correspondence; the papers of each of his five prime ministers; the confidences of courtiers; and the recollections given to the author by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and other members of the royal family.

Book:Vita

Vita: The Life of Vita Sackville-West

Victoria Glendinning

“What each of us would look for in an ideal future biographer is what each of us looks for in an ideal doctor: sympathy, trustfulness and acute powers of diagnosis. All these three qualities are here present. Vita would undoubtedly have shared our approval and gratitude” —Sunday Telegraph

Vita Sackville-West was a vital, gifted and complex woman. A dedicated writer, she made her mark as poet, novelist, biographer, travel writer, journalist and broadcaster. She was also one of the most influential English gardeners of the century, creating with her husband the famous gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent.

Vita documents her extraordinary life, focusing on her relationships with Violet Trefusis, Virginia Woolf, her husband, and her two sons together with her unpublicised love affairs. Vita was determined to be more than just a married woman; her passionate, secretive character, and the strains, mistakes and achievements of her remarkable life makes Vita a absorbing and disturbing book.

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