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Press Release: Prizes and Awards
Winners Of This Year's Tony Lothian Prize And Best First Biography Prize

Posted at 1:52PM Friday 22 Oct 2010

We are delighted to announce the winners of this year's Tony Lothian Prize and Best First Biography Prize.

The winner of the Tony Lothian Prize is Matt Cox for White Lies, Black Magic: Prince Monolulu

Prince Monolulu (1881-1965) was an A-list celebrity long before the term was coined. You couldn't make him up: racing tipster, preacher, dancer, nude model, lion-tamer, conjuror, fire-eater and frog-swallower – the self-styled 'prince' was an all-round opportunist who married six times. Matt Cox tells his riveting story against the backdrop of the Caribbean, Tsarist Russia, New York, Europe's hotspots and two World Wars. His subject springs to life from page one as Cox explores political, cultural and social mores, such as the pursuits of horse racing and gambling which embraced all classes, and emptied all pockets, with equanimity. He writes of the chancer who charmed royalty and commoners alike: 'Monolulu's relationship with his public was an act of collusion. In return for the thrill of his embellished truths, his white lies, the Prince's audience willingly suspended its disbelief. If this virtuous circle didn't actually square the hard problems of life, it certainly provided light relief from the daily grind.'

The £2,000 Tony Lothian Prize (sponsored by her daughter, Elizabeth, Duchess of Buccleuch) supports uncommissioned first-time writers working on a biography. The judges were Matthew Parris, Kate Williams and Benjamin Buchan.

Summaries of all the Tony Lothian Prize shortlisted entries are on the website:

The Best First Biography Prize went to Wendy Moffat for E.M. Forster: A New Life (Bloomsbury)

'Wendy Moffat's re-examination of E.M. Forster identifies his homosexuality as being the essence of his creative life. Using unpublished writings, she charts his gradual awakening to the moral, intellectual and emotional significance of his homo-erotic imagination. Her book is an astute and original new portrait of this major novelist.' Michael Holroyd

Based on a lifetime's dedication to her subject, Wendy Moffat's intelligent literary analysis sheds new light on one of Europe's leading intellectual figures. She also resolves the most puzzling mystery in Forster's career: why, after the publication of A Passage to India in 1924 aged 45, he chose not to publish another novel though he lived to be 90. Reflecting his approach to writing and the world around him, she explores his extraordinary life with great humanity, warmth and humour.

The £2,000 Best First Biography Prize is sponsored by the Club and its members. The judges were Lady Antonia Fraser, Anne Chisholm and Roland Chambers (last year's winner for The Double Life of Arthur Ransome).

The shortlisted entrants were:

Anne Boston – Lesley Blanch: Inner Landscapes Wilder Shores (John Murray)

Daisy Hay – Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives (Bloomsbury)

Candia McWilliam – What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness (Jonathan Cape)

Donald Sturrock – Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl (HarperPress)

Ion Trewin – Alan Clark: The Biography (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

* * *

The prize dinner on Thursday 21 October was held at the Langham Hotel, Portland Place. Our after-dinner speaker was the historian and TV presenter Bettany Hughes, who entertained and enlightened us on the challenges and rewards of researching Socrates, the subject of her latest book The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life.

Among the other 120 guests were writers, publishers, agents and journalists: Andrew Lownie (founder of the Biographers' Club), Clare Alexander, Alan Sansom, Marianne Velmans, Paul Sidey, Brenda Maddox, Sarah Gristwood, Anne de Courcy, Michael Fishwick, Valerie Grove, Dan Franklin, Lyndall Gordon, Trevor Dolby, Marilyn Warnick, Andrew Crofts, Alison Weir, Tracy Borman, Ophelia Field, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.

For further details regarding the Tony Lothian Prize, please contact Anna Swan, 020 8452 4993,

And for the Best First Biography Prize, please contact Susan Ronald: 07860 201708,

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