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Alexandra Harris takes home Guardian First Book Award

2nd December 2010

An academic study of English authors during the 1930s and 1940s has won the Guardian First Book Award.

Alexandra Harris, a lecturer at the University of Liverpool, scooped the GBP 10,000 prize with her Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper.

Judging panel chair Claire Armitstead, the Guardian's literary editor, said that serious works covering the history of art rarely win mainstream literary prizes, but noted that Romantic Moderns proved popular with the award's reading groups despite its academic approach.

'At a time when universities are threatened as never before, Alexandra Harris' ground-breaking book is a reminder of how important higher education is to literature and to culture as a whole,' she added.

Other works shortlisted for the award included Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman, Nadifa Mohamed's Black Mamba Boy and Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman, which are all novels.

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margins of Error by Kathryn Schulz was the only other non-fiction book in the running for the prize.

Last year, the Guardian First Book Award was given to Petina Gappah for her short story collection An Elegy for Easterly.
 

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