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David Willetts to chair 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize

21st August 2012

The judging panel for the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction will be chaired by universities minister David Willetts, it has been announced.

He will be joined on the panel by a number of acclaimed writers, including the biographer Patrick French, novelist and cultural critic Professor Raymond Tallis and the journalists Paul Laity and Bronwen Maddox.

Mr Willetts said he is 'delighted' to be chairing the panel for one of the richest and most prestigious non-fiction awards in the UK.

'We will enjoy reading this year's submissions, which promise to both inform and entertain us in the way that only non-fiction can,' he added.

It will mark the first time the prize has been awarded since it underwent a major revamp last year.

This included the sum awarded to the winner of the prize, which was already one of the most lucrative non-fiction awards in the country, rising from GBP 20,000 to 25,000; the result of a new, anonymous sponsor being announced by the Samuel Johnson Steering Committee.

Furthermore, the announcement of the shortlist and the overall winner of the prize were moved to later in the year, in order to take advantage of the traditional autumn spike in interest in non-fiction books, ahead of the festive season.

The longlist for the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction will be announced in early autumn, with the shortlist unveiled in October and the winner named on November 12th.

The winner will follow in the footsteps of Dutch historian Frank Dikotter, who scooped the 2011 award for Mao's Great Famine, a study of China's ill-fated Great Leap Forward policy.

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