HWA chair Manda Scott

Short list announced for Debut Crown Award at Harrogate History Festival

28 August 2015

Six books have been shortlisted by The Historical Writers’ Association (HWA) for its 2015 Debut Crown Award in new historical fiction.

The winning jewel in the crown will be revealed and presented at the Harrogate History Festival in October.

  • The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson
  • Wake by Anna Hope
  • The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson
  • The Winter Pilgrims by Toby Clements
  • The Good Italian by Stephen Burke
  • The Strangler Vine by MJ Carter 


HWA chair Manda Scott said:

It’s a testament to the incredible talent of these authors that we couldn’t narrow the shortlist down to merely five books.

We were captivated by their stories, thrilled by their plots and loved their characters.

It is going to be a very hard task to pick a winner.


The Debut Crown Award will be given to the winning author during the 2015 Harrogate History Festival, which takes place on October 22-25. The prize money is £2,000.


Manda said:

The Debut Crown competition is such a great opportunity for us to showcase the wealth of authors who are writing wonderful new historical fiction.

It’s even more fitting that we would announce our winner at the Harrogate History Festival, which is such a fantastic celebration of the genre. This year’s event is shaping up to be particularly exciting.


Manda will also be hosting a New Blood panel on the Saturday of the Festival inviting the shortlisted authors to take to the stage to talk about their books, their experience of life in the world of publishing, and their plans for the future.

The festival will open on Thursday, October 22 with the debut award and the Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction Award, presented to Michael Morpurgo on the night by acclaimed broadcaster Mark Lawson on behalf of Harrogate History Festival.

The former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo has written over 130 books and history is his inspiration. One of our best-loved storytellers, War Horse was adapted to film by Spielberg and stage by the National Theatre. War is a recurring theme in his books such as Private Peaceful, and his most recent novel Listen to the Moon, which centres on a survivor of the sinking of the passenger liner the Lusitania in 1915.

 Harrogate literature festivals manager, Gemma Rowland, said:

It is an honour and privilege to welcome Michael and present him with the prestigious award, which last year was given to a fellow giant of the genre, Bernard Cornwell.

Special guests speaking over the following three days include Michael Morpurgo along with Melvyn Bragg, Princess Michael of Kent, Ken Follett, Neil Oliver, Kate Mosse and Tracy Borman.

The Harrogate History Festival takes place at the Old Swan Hotel from October 22-25.


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