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Myers Awarded the Winston Graham Prize for Cuddy

Benjamin Myers has been announced as the winner of 2024's Winston Graham Historical Prize for ‘a historical novel with a powerful sense of place’ for his extraordinary and brilliant novel Cuddy.

Novelist, and judge of the prize, Louis de Bernières presented the £3000 award. He said, ‘This book is atmospheric and thoroughly original, with a cast of characters spanning the centuries, at the centre of whose lives is the corpse of a saint. The writing of this book must have been an act of love, and now we know; the North of England is a holy place. Cuddy is a great book and a worthy winner.’

The prize was awarded at a glittering literary awards night. The five other shortlisted authors were Alan Warner, with a wonderfully idiosyncratic novel about Bonnie Prince Charlie, Nothing Left to Fear; Jo Baker with a haunting and atmospheric Blitz tale, The Midnight News; Sally Magnusson, with her well-received Music in the Dark; Joanna Quinn, author of the bestselling and beloved debut, The Whalebone Theatre; and Kim Sherwood with A Wild and True Relation, a thrilling tale of feminist swashbuckling.

Charlotte Hobson, Chair of the Judges, says, ‘We had a fantastic shortlist for the prize this year, a mark of which was that when I rang around the judges to ask for their favourites, they all mentioned different books. I thought, help, we’re going to have fistfights breaking out at the judges’ meeting, but in fact when it came down to it, Cuddy was a virtually unanimous choice. It’s just such an unusual, touching book, an extraordinary reading experience. It was interesting, too, that our Readers’ Committee, a diverse group of around forty people from all over Cornwall who helped put together the shortlist, also loved it. It may seem on the face of it to be a challenging read because of the unusual layout and so on, but in fact it appeals to all sorts of different readers.’

Myers himself, speaking about the Winston Graham prize before he knew he had won it, said, ‘Thinking about a sense of place is actually a very perceptive way of understanding my books, because they all start from a place. The genesis of Cuddy comes from the landscape – from my desire to write about Durham Cathedral, this iconic building that overshadowed my childhood, and Lindisfarne… The whole idea came from many days, weeks, months wandering about in the landscape, looking, touching, smelling everything.’ He added, ‘Seeing my book on a shortlist such as this, amongst other great writers whose books I’ve previously read and admired – well, it’s just an honour. If you get on a shortlist, as a writer you just feel validated – because underneath, we’re all a bit insecure and needy. So – thank you.’

The Winston Graham Historical Prize was established thanks to a legacy from the Poldark author, Winston Graham, who researched many of his bestselling novels in the Royal Cornwall Museum’s Courtenary Library. It is awarded for a historical novel with a powerful sense of place, published and set in the UK or Ireland.


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