Eccles British Library Writer's Award 2018 winners announced

2018 Eccles British Library Writer's Award winners Tessa McWatt and Stuart Evers (photograph by Ander McIntyre)

The Eccles British Library Writer's Award 2018 has been awarded to Stuart Evers and Tessa McWatt.

Published date:

The Eccles Centre at the British Library is delighted to announce that the novelist and short story writer Stuart Evers and the author, librettist and screenwriter Tessa McWatt, are the joint winners of the 2018 Eccles British Library Writer’s Award.

Now in its seventh 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, Canada and the Caribbean, 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 2018.

Evers, will be researching his novel, THE DISAPPEARANCES, the story of Thomas Lodge, and his determination to write the definitive account of history’s most confounding disappearances. Lodge has dedicated his life to researching and solving cases that have baffled experts for decades. But what becomes The Disappearances is far from the book he intended to write – and with the past closing in on him, presenting clear parallels with his own experience, Lodge finally leaves the library and heads out into the real world. There he will confront what he has lost, and come to terms with how it came to disappear.

McWatt will be researching a memoir entitled, POROUS: A MEMOIR OF RACE AND STORIES, in which she will set out to explore the hybridity of her racial and cultural heritage, and to try to understand the social whiteness, political blackness and cultural duality of the privilege she has. The book will trace the history of her ancestry by embracing and undermining race at the same time, by tracing her heritage through investigating the factual context for the mythical family tales in a trail of DNA from Britain, Europe, Africa, India, China and the indigenous people of British Guiana.

The connection with the Eccles Centre will allow Evers and McWatt 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.

Acting Head of the Eccles Centre, Dr Cara Rodway, says, ‘in awarding the 2018 Eccles British Library Writer’s Award prizes to Stuart Evers and Tessa McWatt the judges have once again demonstrated that the British Library can support creative and original research. With projects which are set to range across the US, Canada and the Caribbean, this year’s award highlights the breadth and depth of the Library’s wonderful collections on North America, and their immense value in providing a foundation for writers of enormous talent. The prizes will offer these 2018 holders the chance to explore the trans-Atlantic and global themes through the unique resources of the British Library, and the projects undertaken by Stuart Evers and Tessa McWatt, as with the work undertaken by the previous 12 award holders will, in the future, guide readers through the wonderful and surprising materials which can be uncovered in the British Library’s collections.’

The judges for the Award this year were Professor Sarah Churchwell, Professorial Fellow in American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, Professor Richard Carwardine, formerly President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Dr Cara Rodway, Acting Head of the Eccles Centre, Catherine Eccles literary scout and granddaughter of David and Mary Eccles, who endowed the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the Library in 1991 and Dr Mercedes Aguirre, Lead Curator for the Americas at the British Library. Such was the high standard of submissions for this year’s award, that again, two awards were given. 

To find out more and to learn about previous holders of the award, please visit our Writer's Award page