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Eccles Centre Writers Award

2017 Eccles British Library Writers Award

The Eccles Centre at the British Library is delighted to announce that Hannah Kohler, author and Bob Stanley, author, film producer, and member of St Etienne are the joint winners of the 2017 Eccles British Library Writers Award.

Now in its sixth year, The Eccles British Library Writer’s Award was set up as part of the Eccles Centre’s charge to promote awareness of the British Library collections relating to the USA and Canada and to help facilitate the use of these collections. Each of the winners is awarded £20,000 and will use the British Library’s collections to research their upcoming publications during their residency which starts in January 2017.

The connection with the Eccles Centre will allow Kohler and Stanley both quietly to research their projects in the great surroundings of the British Library, and to use the Centre’s programme and networks to engage with other researchers, students and members of the public.

Director of the Eccles Centre, Professor Philip Davies, says, ‘the latest winners of this fabulous award bring the total number of Eccles British Library Writer’s Award holders to a dozen, and the total investment in the future of these writers to almost a quarter of a million pounds, at a time when we are marking 25 years of the Eccles Centre. Together the British Library’s collections, the Eccles Centre’s support and the Award winners’ vision combine in the production of great works founded firmly on the greatest research collections.’

About the Winners

Hannah Kohler, whose first novel, The Outside Lands, was published by Picador earlier in 2016 and will be published in paperback in January 2017, will be researching her second novel, Catspaw, which follows two women from Chicago to the Sierra foothills during the California Gold Rush of 1849. The Gold Rush told people they could be somebody different, and for Pearl Nye and Emeline Snow, it offers the opportunity to escape the constraints of their lives in Victorian-era America. It’s the story of the struggle to win the self, and keep it; the corrosive and curative powers of desire; and the complications of friendship.

Following on from Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, Bob Stanley will be researching his new book, Too Darn Hot: The Story of Popular Music. Pop music existed before rock ‘n’ roll. It had existed for more than fifty years. Too Darn Hot will make sense of the crucial 50-year period from the very first recorded music to the rock ‘n’ roll era; the major stars, the songwriters, the leaps in technology, the heroes and heroines, and their links to the modern pop era. The book will show how the relationship between Britain and America created the sounds of Broadway and Hollywood, and how immigrant cultures rubbed together and shaped the future with songs purpose-built to sell. Together they provided the soundtrack of the twentieth century.


About the Award

Former Writers in Residence, 2012-2015 (c) Ander 
Former Writers in Residence, 2012-2015 (c) Ander McIntyre

The Award of £20,000 is open to writers resident in the United Kingdom. Writers should be working on a non-fiction or fiction full-length book, written in the English Language, the research for which requires that they make substantial use of the British Library’s collections relating to North America (the USA and/or Canada).

The Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award was first awarded for the calendar year 2012.  The winners of the 2012 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award were Sheila Rowbotham, the respected British socialist feminist writer and honorary fellow of the Universities of Manchester and Bristol, and the critically acclaimed novelist Naomi Wood.  During her 2012 residency, Wood researched her novel, Mrs Hemingway, which was published by Picador in 2014. Rowbotham's group biography Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers, and Radicals in Britain and the United States was published by Verso in 2016.

The 2013 winners were the historian Andrea Wulf and the poet and novelist John Burnside.  Wulf’s book The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the lost Hero of Science which she researched during her 2013 residency was published by John Murray in October 2015 and won the 2015 Costa Biography Award and 2016 Royal Society Science Book prize.  Burnside's novel Ashland and Vine is due to be published in 2017.

The critic and writer, Olivia Laing and the journalist and author, Erica Wagner were the 2014 winners. Laing's book The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone was published by Picador in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn prize. Wagner's Chief Engineer is due to be published in 2017.

The 2015 winners were Professor Sarah Churchwell and novelist Benjamin Markovits, and the 2016 winners were author and editor William Atkins, and author Alison MacLeod

Watch former Writer in Residence, Naomi Wood, explain how the award helped her research her novel Mrs Hemingway (Picador, 2014).

Read blog posts by current and former Writers in Residence on the Americas blog.

Previous recipients

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