Hawthornden Prize for "Imaginative Literature"


Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2010
Hawthornden Prize - Wikipedia

One can see that "imaginative literature" is interpreted broadly, as winners have included novels, book-length poems, travels, biography, popular science, history, etc.

I observed that I have read several of these with particular enjoyment, so I think I'll look into some of the other winners -- with the important reservation that I am inclined to be skeptical right off the start about recent winners, let's say the past 15 years or so, without looking at them, just because there has been so much emphasis of late on political considerations that I am inclined to figure older books are likely to be better bets than new ones.

I have read the books by Dennis, Hilton, Graves, Waugh, Pitter (or at least most of the Pitter, in a collected poems volume), Greene, Skinner, Naipaul, Read, Chatwin, and Thubron -- and thought well of them all or indeed loved them. I have on hand a photocopy of Hassall's Penthesperon but haven't read it yet. By the way, the Romer Wilson book, The Death of Society, is not an essay but a novel (or is an essay in the form of a novel), from what I understand. Anyway, the prize givers evidently have often been on a wavelength that I like to tune in.
I see what you mean about broad interpretation - how does a history of the siege of Stalingrad win a prize for Imaginative Literature, previously won by Tarka the Otter? As far as I can see, the only qualification for consideration is that you have to be under the age of 41...
I second @Jo Zebedee on Colm Toibin and Graham Swift (Waterland. especially.)
I like the inclusion of Chatwin and Thubron.

Interesting list. There is probably a citation list somewhere which explains the awards.
Fair enough. I read Waterland when it was new and liked it, so maybe I'll give Mothering Sunday a try.