At last the waiting’s over and the winners have been announced.
At an awards party held at the Swedenborg Centre in London on 7 November, 2018, and hosted by historian Kate Williams, HWA members and colleagues celebrated the winners of the three HWA Crown awards and the HWA / Dorothy Dunnett short story competition.
The Sharpe Books HWA Gold Crown for historical fiction was won by To Die in Spring, written by Ralf Rothmann and published by Picador.
It was translated by Shaun Whiteside, who received the award on Rothmann’s behalf.
The award judges found To Die in Spring ‘beautifully written, affecting and intensely readable – a powerful novel that works on many levels.’ They described Shaun Whiteside’s translation as ‘one of the best [they] had read’.
The Non-fiction Crown winner was White King: Charles I – Traitor, Martyr, Murderer by Leanda de Lisle, published by Chatto & Windus.
Her book is ‘a quietly revolutionary biography of a man obscured by layers of myth, prejudice and misunderstanding’, said the judges.
‘Drawing on new sources, and interrogating familiar material in a new way, de Lisle emphasises Charles’s humanity, his weaknesses and his strengths, while restoring the women in his life to centre stage.’
The HWA Debut Crown went to Estoril by Dejan Tiago-Stankovic. Estoril is published by Apollo/Head of Zeus.
‘Assured, surprising and complex, this poignant story of divided loyalties among the extraordinary residents of a hotel in neutral Portugal during the Second World War reads like a rediscovered classic,’ the judges said.
Imogen Robertson, HWA Chair, said: ‘Each winner was part of a very strong short- and longlist which demonstrated the breadth and vigour of historical writing published in the UK in the last year. We are sure that all lovers of history will find something to delight them in these lists, from adventure, epic and literary fiction of the highest quality to important popular works of non-fiction which shed fresh light on familiar figures or carve out and claim important new territory all of their own.’
The winner of the HWA / Dorothy Dunnett short story competition for unpublished short stories was also announced. The first prize went to Canadian writer Jennifer Falkner for Nineteen Above Discovery. In an unusual twist, she also won second prize with her short story Experiential Does It.
The announcement of a new HWA prize for unpublished novels, in collaboration with Sharpe Books, surprised and delighted guests.
The success of the evening was in great measure thanks to our sponsors, Sharpe Books and The History Press. Our judges dedicated a great deal of their time reading and debating the huge number of submissions with generosity and enthusiasm, and the HWA is hugely grateful to them for their work. And guests enjoyed the food provided by The Cheese Tasting Company.
2018 HWA Crown awards party picture gallery:
Our host, Kate Williams, introduces the awards
A delighted Shaun Whiteside, translator of To Die in Spring, on his way to collect the 2018 HWA Sharpe Books Gold Crown (also seen in the main image, with judge Elizabeth Fremantle)
Leanda de Lisle receives her award from 2018 HWA Non-fiction Crown judge Jason Goodman
Clare Gordon from Head of Zeus with the 2018 HWA Debut Crown awarded by judge and crime blogger Ayo Onatade
HWA Chair Imogen Robertson presents Jennifer Falkner with her first prize in the Dorothy Dunnett short story competition
And relax… guests enjoy the rest of the evening
Judges Richard Foreman and Saul David with Ned Palmer (centre)
Elizabeth Buchan with short story shortlisters AV Bruce and Bella D’Arcy Reed
Blessed are the cheesemongers: Ned Palmer conducts a quick cheese-tasting
All photographs of the event: Adam Robertson