This award is given to a literary autobiography of excellence, for which it is felt that J.R. Ackerley would have expressed enthusiasm.
This prize was first awarded in 1982. Following the death of Joe Randolph Ackerley (1896 – 1967), author and long-time literary editor of The Listener magazine, his sister Nancy endowed a literary prize in his memory. Ackerley’s posthumous royalties continue to provide capital for this award.
A longlist of eligible books is nominated by the judges, who are the Trustees of the fund set up for this purpose. The award is given to a literary autobiography of excellence, written by an author of British nationality and published during the preceding year, for which it is felt that J.R. Ackerley would have expressed enthusiasm.
The 2015 winner of the PEN Ackerley Prize was Henry Marsh for Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). He accepted the award at the English PEN Summer party on 29 June 2015. Other authors shortlisted for the prize were: Patrick McGuinness for Other People’s Countries: A Journey into Memory (Jonathan Cape); Jonathan Meades for Encyclopaedia of Myself (4th Estate); and Bart Moore-Gilbert for The Setting Sun: A Memoir of Empire and Family Secrets (Verso).
- 2014 – Sonali Deraniyagala for Wave
- 2013- Richard Holloway Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt
- 2012 – Duncan Fallowell for How to Disappear (Ditto Press)
- 2011 – Michael Frayn for My Father’s Fortune
- 2010 – Gabriel Weston for Direct Red (Cape)
- 2009 – Julia Blackburn for The Three of Us.
- 2008 – Miranda Seymour for her frank account of her family’s tangled relationships, In My Father’s House, published by Simon & Schuster.
- 2007 – Brian Thompson for his memoir, Keeping Mum.
- 2005 – Alan Bennett for his memoir, Untold Stories
- 2005 – Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, Half An Arch
- 2004 – Bryan Magee, Clouds of Glory – A Hoxton Childhood
- 2003 – Jenny Diski, Stranger on a Train
- 2002 – Michael Foss, Out of India: a Raj Childhood
- 2001 – Lorna Sage, Bad Blood
- 2000 – Mark Frankland, Child of My Time
- 1999 – Margaret Forster, Precious Lives
- 1998 – Kathryn Fitzherbert, True to Both Myselves
- 1997 – Tim Lott, The Scent of Dried Roses
- 1996 – Eric Lomax, The Railway Man
- 1995 – Paul Vaughan, Something in Linoleum
- 1994 – Blake Morrison, When Did You Last See Your Father?
- 1993 – Barry Humphries, More, Please
- 1992 – John Osborne, Almost a Gentleman
- 1991 – Paul Binding, St Martin’s Ride
- 1990 – Germaine Greer, Daddy We Hardly Knew You
- 1989 – John Healy, The Grass Arena
- 1988 – Anthony Burgess, Little Wilson & Big God
- 1987 – Diana Athill, After the Funeral
- 1986 – Dan Jacobson, Time and Time Again
- 1985 – Angelica Garnett, Deceived with Kindness
- 1984 – Richard Cobb, Still Life
- 1983 – Kathleen Dayus, Her People and Ted Walker, High Path
- 1982 – Edward Blishen, Shaky Relations
Watch: Videos of PEN Ackerley Prize announcements