The Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, sponsored by Flora Fraser and Peter Soros, was established in 2003 in affectionate memory of Elizabeth Longford, the acclaimed biographer. The prize celebrates, annually, a historical biography which, like hers, combines scholarship and narrative drive. It is judged by a panel of historians and historical biographers. Books must be published or distributed in the United Kingdom, in the calendar year preceding. Works in translation are not eligible.
No unsolicited submissions are accepted.
D. W. Hayton
Conservative Revolutionary: The Lives of Lewis Namier
Manchester University Press
Commenting on this year’s winner, the Chair of Judges, Roy Foster said:
“The shortlist for the 2020 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography was particularly strong and highly contested, but David Hayton’s biography of Lewis Namier won through triumphantly. It is a remarkable achievement, providing at once the definitive account of the life of a great historian, a searching analysis of the Central European background which produced him, and a magisterial treatment of Namier’s major interventions into eighteenth-century English parliamentary history, nationalism in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, Zionism, and much else. The intellectual worlds dominated by this complex figure come vividly alive in David Hayton’s treatment, as does Namier’s challenging, difficult but engaging personality and his complicated private life. This prize prioritizes accessibility and ease of style, along with historical substance; Conservative Revolutionary is firmly in this tradition, manipulating a huge range of archival sources with a sure hand and a welcome leavening of wit. It is also a subtle commentary on the idea of Englishness and English history embraced (and partially invented) by a passionate outsider, and the intellectual inheritance he left. The simplistic idea of Namier as someone who denied the historical role of ‘ideas’ will not survive this sparkling biography, which is full of them.”
The four titles also shortlisted were:
- Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely by Andrew S. Curran (Other Press)
- Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History by Richard J. Evans (Little, Brown)
- Michael Tippett: The Biography by Oliver Soden (Orion – Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
- Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy by A. N. Wilson (Atlantic Books)
The 2019 winner was Julian Jackson for A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle (Allen Lane).
About Elizabeth Longford
Elizabeth Longford (1906-2002) was born Elizabeth Harman. She married Frank Pakenham, later Earl of Longford, in 1931. She was a celebrated biographer and historian and continued to write well into her nineties. Her many publications include Victoria RI (1964), Wellington: The Years of the Sword (1969), and Wellington: Pillar of State (1972).
For more information, please visit the ELHB website.