‘In times of crisis, historical fiction is both reassurance and escape’.
Christine Dwyer Hickey has been announced as the winner of the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for The Narrow Land. The winner was announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Friday 12th June, closely followed by RTE Radio 1’s Arena programme.
Honouring the achievements of the founding father of the historical novel, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. The winner receives £25,000 and shortlisted authors each receive £1,500. Also short-listed for the 2020 award was Irish author Joseph O’Connor for Shadowplay. Previous Irish winners include Sebastian Barry for Days Without End in 2016.
Since it was founded twelve years ago by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the Prize has awarded nearly £300,000 to authors and brought over 150 great novels to wider public attention.
The Walter Scott Prize celebrates quality of writing in the English language, and is open to novels published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth. Reflecting the subtitle ‘Sixty Years Since’ of Scott’s famous work Waverley, the majority of the storyline must have taken place at least 60 years ago.
The Prize is usually awarded at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland, in June every year, but in 2020 it was not possible to hold a live event because of the Covid-19 restrictions, so the winner was announced live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row and in a specially commissioned video.
The WSP judging panel is chaired by Katie Grant, and includes Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie and Kirsty Wark.
Walter Scott Prize 2020 shortlist
- The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey
- The Parisian by Isabella Hammad
- To Calais, In Ordinary Time by James Meek
- Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
- The Redeemed by Tim Pears
- A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland
For more info on the Walter Scott Prize: https://www.walterscottprize.co.uk/