The two winners of the 2013 Eccles British Library in Residence Award are announced

The Eccles Centre for American Studies is delighted to announce that the 2013 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award has been given to the critically acclaimed historian Andrea Wulf and the talented poet and novelist John Burnside.

Now in its second year, the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award was set up as part of the Centre’s charge to promote awareness of the British Library collections relating to the USA and Canada and to help facilitate the use of these collections. Each of the winners will use the collections to research their upcoming publications. Wulf’s is entitled THE INVENTION OF NATURE and is a book of narrative non-fiction, telling the story of the German scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) and how his visionary ideas of nature changed the way we see the world. Burnside’s is a novel, which is very loosely a response to Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, following a brother and sister from their '30s childhood in the South through the volatile ‘60s and the rest of the 'American Century’.

The winners are awarded £20,000 each by the Eccles Centre and their residency will start in January 2013. Working with Philip Davies, Director of the Eccles Centre, Wulf and Burnside will also develop and participate in seminars, workshops and other events relating to their projects and raise the profile of the Eccles Centre via the web and social media campaigns.

The judges for the Award were Professor Richard Carwardine, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, novelist Tracy Chevalier, Professor Philip Davies, Director of the Eccles Centre, Catherine Eccles, literary scout and granddaughter of David and Mary Eccles who endowed the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the Library in 1991, and Carole Holden, Head of the British Library's Americas and Australasian collections.

They were delighted with the high calibre of entries and the number, which has increased considerably since the previous year, resulting in the judges doubling the award for the second year running, awarding two Writers in Residence.

Richard Carwardine says of this year’s winners,

‘As they bring their formidable and complementary talents to their roles as writers in residence at the British Library, we are sure Andrea Wulf and John Burnside will relish the creative stimulus of working amongst its exceptional holdings.’ Richard Carwardine

For further information or to arrange an interview with Andrea Wulf or John Burnside please contact Katie Hambly on katie.hambly1@btinternet.com or 01752 778211/07875 088 371.

Notes to Editors:

About the winners:

Andrea Wulf was born in India, moved to Germany as a child, and now lives in Britain where she trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art. She is the author of several books including THE BROTHER GARDENERS: BOTANY, EMPIRE AND THE BIRTH OF AN OBSESSION (which won the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award and was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2008) and FOUNDING GARDENERS which was published to great acclaim in 2011 and made it onto the New York Times best seller list. She has written for the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, the Sunday Times and the Guardian, and reviews for several newspapers, including the New York Times. Her latest book is CHASING VENUS: THE RACE TO MEASURE THE HEAVENS which was published by William Heinemann in 2012. She is a three-time fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, Virginia. Andrea lives in London.

John Burnside was born on 19 March 1955 in Dunfermline, Scotland, and now lives in Fife. He studied English and European Languages at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. A former computer software engineer, he has been a freelance writer since 1966. He is a former Writer in Residence at Dundee University and now teaches at the University of St Andrews. His first collection of poetry, THE HOOP, was published in 1988 and won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Other poetry collections include COMMON KNOWLEDGE (1991), FEAST DAYS (1992), winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and THE ASYLUM DANCE (2000), winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award and shortlisted for both the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and the T. S. Eliot Prize. THE LIGHT TRAP (2001) was also shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. His poetry collection, THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR (2005), was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). In 2008, he received a Cholmondeley Award.

He is also the author of a collection of short stories, BURNING ELVIS (2000), and several novels, including THE DUMB HOUSE (1997), THE MERCY BOYS (1999) and THE LOCUST ROOM (2001), which is set in Cambridge in 1975, and explores the consequences of a series of violent rapes. His novel, LIVING NOWHERE (2003), is a powerful and violent story of friendship and loss. Recent novels are THE DEVIL’S FOOTPRINTS (2007), shortlisted for the 2008 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction), and GLISTER (2008). John Burnside's memoir, A LIE ABOUT MY FATHER, was published in 2006, and a sequel, WAKING UP IN TOYTOWN, in 2010, shortlisted for the 2011 PEN/Ackerley Prize.

His latest collections of poetry are GIFT SONGS (2007) and THE HUNT IN THE FOREST (2009). His latest novel is A SUMMER OF DROWNING (2011), a suspense mystery narrated by a teenage girl. It was shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Novel Award.

In 2011, his latest poetry collection, BLACK CAT BONE, won both the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and the T. S, Eliot Prize.

About the Award:

• The Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award was first awarded for the calendar year 2012.

• The winners of the 2012 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award were Sheila Rowbotham, the respected British socialist feminist writer and honorary fellow of the Universities of Manchester and Bristol, and Naomi Wood, known for her critically acclaimed debut novel THE GODLESS BOYS.

• The Award of £20,000 is open to writers resident in the United Kingdom. Writers should be working on a non-fiction or fiction full-length book, written in the English Language, the research for which requires that they make substantial use of the British Library’s collections relating to North America (the USA and/or Canada).

For more information contact:


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  

The Eccles Centre for American Studies was founded and endowed by the late David and Mary Eccles.  Based at the British Library the Centre has two broad aims: to increase awareness and use of the Library's North American holdings, and to promote and support the study of North America in the United Kingdom through the collections and a programme of events.  The Centre's programme includes public lectures, discussion panels and concerts, academic conferences and seminars, teacher and student events and web based study resources.  The focus of the Eccles Centre is on the USA and Canada, but can extend to include the hemispheric, comparative and international topics in which these countries play a major part.  The Centre works in co-operation with the Library's American Studies curatorial team, and with many other partners interested in the advancement of knowledge about America. 


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