Established in 2003 in affectionate memory of Elizabeth Longford, the acclaimed biographer, and sponsored by Flora Fraser and Peter Soros, the prize is awarded annually for a historical biography published in the preceding year.
The four shortlisted writers and the titles of their novels are:
- A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle by Julian Jackson (Allen Lane)
- Thomas Cromwell: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch (Allen Lane)
- Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts (Allen Lane)
- The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart (Oxford University Press)
The judges this year are Richard Davenport-Hines, Roy Foster (Chair), Antonia Fraser, Flora Fraser, and Rana Mitter.
Commenting on this year’s shortlist, the Chair of Judges, Roy Foster said:
The shortlist of the 2019 Elizabeth Longford Historical Biography Prize highlights new perspectives on four people who changed the life of their country. Julian Jackson’s A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle is a masterly delineation of a ruler who epitomised France as powerfully as Louis XIV or Napoleon; Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cromwell illuminates the man who did more than anyone else to establish Henry VIII’s new state; Andrew Roberts’ Churchill takes a new look at a controversial titan who unexpectedly came to represent England at a dark hour; and Jeffrey C. Stewart’s The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke reveals an ignored chapter of Black American history through an extraordinary figure who crossed all manner of boundaries in an exemplary twentieth-century life. These biographies demonstrate how four remarkable people not only made their own history, but sensed the zeitgeist and came to personify it – which is exactly the kind of insight provided by the work of Elizabeth Longford, whom this Prize commemorates.
The winner will be announced on 8 May and will be presented with the £5,000 award at the Society of Authors’ Awards and Summer Party on 17 June.