Julia Blackburn wins PEN/Ackerley Prize for Autobiography

The PEN/Ackerley Prize was last night awarded to Julia Blackburn for The Three of Us, her frank account of growing up in a fractured bohemian household. Dan Franklin, Blackburn’s editor at Cape, accepted the prize cheque on Blackburn’s behalf, expressing her delight at winning, and her sorrow that she she was unable to attend, as her house in Italy had recently been struck by lightning.

The PEN/Ackerley Prize is Britain’s only literary prize dedicated to memoir and autobiography. It was established in memory of JR Ackerley, the author and literary editor.

Blackburn fought off competition from a strong shortlist that was composed of the following books:

Julian Barnes Nothing to be Frightened of  (Cape)
Julia BlackburnThe Three  of Us  (Cape)
Susie BoytMy Judy Garland Life (Virago)
Ferdinand MountCold Cream (Bloomsbury)
Sathnam SangheraThe Boy with the Topknot [originally published as If You Don’t Know Me By Now]  (Penguin)

The PEN/Ackerley Prize was presented in the Gallery at Foyles, Charing Cross Road. The presentation was preceded by a discussion by previous winners of the prize, Dan Jacobson and Miranda Seymour, on the pleasures and pitfalls of memoir and autobiography. English PEN would like to thank Foyles, and HW Fisher and Waitrose Wines Direct for their generous support of this event.

The PEN/Ackerley Prize was judged by Georgina Hammick, Francis King, Peter Parker (chair) and Colin Spencer. The award is given each year to a literary autobiography of outstanding merit, written by an author of British nationality and published in the United Kingdom in the previous year. The winner receives a cheque for £2,000. Past winners include Diana Athill, Alan Bennett, Jenny Diski, Barry Humphries, Blake Morrison and Lorna Sage.

Joe Randolph Ackerley (1896-1967), was an author and long-time literary editor of The Listener magazine. When Ackerley died, his sister Nancy endowed the JR Ackerley Prize in his memory.

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/news/_1671

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