Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, so I was immediately interested to read that the shortlist for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has been announced. The Prize honours the achievements and legacy of Sir Walter Scott, the founding father of the historical novel and the winner will be announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland, on 13 June.

To qualify, books must be by authors from the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth.

The shortlist is:

  • LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson
  • THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton
  • HARVEST by Jim Crace
  • FAIR HELEN by Andrew Greig
  • AN OFFICER AND A SPY by Robert Harris
  • THE PROMISE by Ann Weisgarber

Life After Life (which won the Costa Novel Award) is the only one of these books that I have, but I fancy reading some of the others, such as Luminaries, which won the Man Booker Prize and Fair Helen set in the Borders in the 1590s, based on a Border Ballad and legend often called €˜the Scottish Romeo and Juliet’. And I’ll certainly take at least a look at the others before June.

8 thoughts on “Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

  1. This makes me remember one of the highlights of our trip to Scotland, a visit to Scott’s home. Dave could hardly pull me out of the study and the library. So many books, the desk where he wrote, I was in awe. Very rarely a place gets to me like that.


  2. That’s the most appealing shortlist I’ve seen for a while. I enjoyed Harvest a lot, and thought An Officer and a Spy was a great book. Just about to read The Luminaries – hopefully before the award date anyway. The Atkinson doesn’t appeal to me though I’ve seen loads of positive reviews, and the other two I know nothing about, except that Andrew Greig is reputedly a very fine writer.


  3. The only book on the shortlist I’ve read is Life After Life, but I love the sound of Fair Helen (not just because it’s my name!) and will probably read The Luminaries at some point as well.


  4. Fair Helen sounds most intriguing as does Life After Life. I recently listened to Isaac’s Storm about the Galveston storm in 1900, so I imagine a novel set in that time/place/event (i.e., The Promise) would have a lot to build on.

    Are you going to The Borders Book Festival–sounds like it could be a great time!


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