The 18 books shortlisted for HWA Crown Awards in 2019 have been announced. The search is now on to find the winners in the three awards categories: Gold Crown, Sharpe Books Non-fiction Crown and Debut Crown.
The shortlisted books are:
HWA Gold Crown Award 2019
Little by Edward Carey (Aardvark Bureau)
In Little, Edward Carey brings the young servant girl who becomes Madame Tussaud vividly to life against the background of revolutionary France. It is a novel of stunning originality and imaginative depth that manages to be macabre, hilarious, tragic and deeply humane all at the same time. The kind of book you want to force all your friends to read immediately.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor (HarperCollins)
A fictional take on the story of heroine Grace Darling. A beautifully written and moving account, underpinned by a melancholic pull of love and loss.
Lancelot by Giles Kristian (Corgi)
Lancelot is the other side of the story, taking a well-known legend and flipping it. Giles brings a real life quality to his characters and the result is a book that you feel as much as you read. An emotional journey that redefines a legend.
Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Vintage)
A superlative novel. Smoke and Ashes is another perfect depiction of the underbelly of India in the 1920s told from the perspective of a dissolute narrator. The kind of book which leaves you desolate when you reach the final page and realise there is no more.
Mrs Whistler by Matthew Plampin (The Borough Press)
This foray into the world of Victorian art is exquisitely written and utterly beautiful. Readers will not quickly forget the story of Whistler, with all his ego and flair, and his long-suffering muse, Maud.
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (Black Swan)
A river meanders through the lives, loves and fears of a community, and the result is a book of immense vivacity and charm.
HWA Sharpe Books Non-fiction Crown Award 2019
Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham (Bantam Press)
Utterly compelling and brilliantly conceived. An engaging and revelatory investigation into a devastating tragedy.
How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr (Bodley Head)
Highly original, readable, challenging and surprising, this peels back the history of America’s expansionist ambitions.
The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre (Penguin)
Riveting, full of tradecraft and thrills. This story of a KGB double agent is page-turning history at its best.
I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux (Faber & Faber)
A vivid, immersive and insightful biography, framing the philosopher in a fresh and revealing light.
The Race to Save the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport (Windmill Books)
Colourful, fresh and brilliantly told, this new investigation of a century-old mystery into the fate of the Romanovs is both tragic and enthralling.
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Doubleday)
Eloquent, passionate and haunting. Rubenhold turns the spotlight on the women who were the Ripper’s victims and the complex pattern of their lives.
HWA Debut Crown Award 2019
The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna Marie Crowhurst (Allen & Unwin)
A thoroughly modern feminist playwright of Restoration theatre whose letters, diaries and scripts show a coming of age full of bawdy wit that is as clever as it is engaging.
Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth (One)
In Only Killers and Thieves we have a vicious tale of revenge set amongst the backdrop of 19th-century Queensland. In turns mesmerising and brutal, along with a fascinating story set in very disturbing times of Australian history.
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea (Penguin)
A chilling and enthralling telling of Icelandic witch trials, The Glass Woman is not only beautifully drawn but is poignant, evocative and fascinating. A gothic haunting tale that is lyrical and poetic.
Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce (Picador)
A winning Second World War story. A novel of good humour and courage where female friendship is important and having a stiff upper lip doesn’t always work. Quirky, charming and engaging, it demonstrates the importance of the roles of the women back home towards the war effort, and the courage they had to draw on.
Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd Robinson (Mantle)
Blood and Sugar evokes the passionate denunciation of the British participation in the slave trade. Set in the bowels of 18th-century Deptford this is a tightly plotted and frightening crime story that is gripping and harsh and which vividly portrays a side of London that is harrowing and compelling. A compulsive read.
The Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg (Atlantic)
The Confessions of the Fox is an opulently murky but detailed account of a trans person living in 18th-century London. Ambitious and also thought provoking, this metafictional post-modern novel explores everything from gender identity to mass incarceration, while moving between centuries. It even features footnotes.
Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors from us at the HWA.
Imogen Robertson, chair of the HWA, says: “These are all brilliant books which I heartily recommend to every fan of historical writing. Spanning continents and ages, adventures, scandals, thought-provoking or revelatory, these are all books to treasure.”
See also the 2019 HWA Crown Awards longlists.
We’d like to thank the judges who’ve given their time to agree on these outstanding books from among this year’s impressive entries:
HWA Gold Crown judges: Kate Atherton, Victoria Blake, Robin Carter, Helen Nugent and Antonia Senior (chair).
HWA Sharpe Books Non-Fiction Crown judges: Richard Foreman, Roger Moorhouse, Alex von Tunzelmann and Jason Goodwin (chair).
HWA Debut Crown judges: Susan Heads, Liz Fremantle and Ayo Onatade (chair).
Have a look at Historia’s articles and interviews featuring several of these authors:
Find out more about Sharpe Books. co-sponsors of the HWA Sharpe Books Non-Fiction Crown Award.