Annal: 2003 Whitbread Book Award for Biography

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 2003.

Book:Orwell

Orwell: The Life

D.J. Taylor

At last, a fresh, comprehensive biography of the twentieth century’s most emblematic writer

In the last fifty years, Animal Farm and 1984 have sold over forty million copies, and “Orwellian” is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature, and language. D. J. Taylor’s magisterial assessment cuts through George Orwell’s iconic status to reveal a bitter critic who concealed a profound totalitarian streak and whose progress through the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by the myths he built around himself. But whether as reluctant servant of the Raj in 1920s Burma, mock down-and-outer in Paris and London, or Spanish Civil War soldier, the circumstances of his life are sharply at odds with the image Orwell so effectively stage-managed.

Drawing on previously unseen material, Orwell is a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint. This is the biography we have been waiting for-as vibrant, powerful, and resonant as its extraordinary subject.

Book:Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

Andrew Wilson

The first and highly anticipated biography of the author of such classics of suspense as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The life of Patricia Highsmith was as secretive and unusual as that of many of the best-known characters who people her “peerlessly disturbing” writing. Yet even as her work—her thrillers, short stories, and the pseudonymous lesbian novel The Price of Salt—have found new popularity in the last few years, the life of this famously elusive writer has remained a mystery.

For Beautiful Shadow, the first biography of Highsmith, journalist Andrew Wilson mined the vast archive of diaries, notebooks, and letters that Patricia Highsmith left behind, astonishing in their candor and detail. He interviewed her closest…[more]

Book:Gellhorn

Gellhorn: A Twentieth Century Life

Caroline Moorehead

The first major biography of legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, whose life provides a unique and thrilling perspective on world history in an extraordinary time

Martha Gellhorn’s heroic career as a reporter brought her to the front lines of virtually every significant international conflict between the Spanish Civil War and the end of the Cold War. The preeminent-and often the only-female correspondent on the scene, she broke new ground for women in the male preserve of journalism. Her wartime dispatches, marked by a passionate desire to expose suffering in its many guises and an inimitable immediacy, rank among the best of the twentieth century.

A deep-seated love of travel complemented this interest in world affairs. From her birth in St. Louis in 1908 to her death in London in 1998, Gellhorn passed through Africa, Cuba, China, and most of the great cities of Europe, recording her experiences…[more]

Book:Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher: Volume 2. The Iron Lady

John Campbell

The first full study of the Thatcher Government from beginning to dramatic end—The Iron Lady is certain to become one of the greatest political biographies of our times.

Frank Johnson in the Daily Telegraph described the first volume of John Campbell’s biography of Margaret Thatcher as “much the best book yet written about Lady Thatcher.” That volume, The Grocer’s Daughter, described Mrs. Thatcher’s childhood and early career up until the 1979 General Election, which carried her into Downing Street. This second volume covers the whole eleven and a half years of her momentous premiership.

Thirteen years after her removal from power, this is the first comprehensive and fully researched study of the Thatcher government from its hesitant beginning to its dramatic end. Campbell draws on the mass of memoirs and diaries of Margaret Thatcher’s…[more]

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