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Fiona MacCarthy and Padgett Powell win James Tait Black Prizes

28th August 2012

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes, the UK's oldest literary awards, have been won by the British biographer Fiona MacCarthy and the American novelist Padgett Powell.

MacCarthy triumphed in the biography category for The Last Pre-Raphaelite, her account of the life of the artist and designer Edward Burne-Jones, while Powell won the fiction prize for his latest novel You & I.

The awards were inaugurated in 1919 by the widow of James Tait Black, co-founder of the publisher A & C Black, with the winners chosen each year by the Professors of English Literature at Edinburgh University, who are assisted by resident PhD students.

This year's prizes were presented at the Edinburgh International Book Fair, where MacCarthy revealed that The Last Pre-Raphaelite had been 'pure enjoyment' to write.

'I'm thrilled and excited to have won this wonderful prize, which I think of as one of the most serious literary prizes still in existence' she added.

Powell, meanwhile, thanked the students who selected his book as the victor, as well as the prize judge Dr Lee Spinks, who had heaped praise on the novel's originality.

Both the shortlist and the overall winner of the fiction award were determined by Dr Spinks, while the biography category was judged by Dr Jonathan Wilde.

Each writer wins GBP 10,000, while Powell will also go on to compete for the Best of the James Tait Black Prize, a special award celebrating the fiction winners from the past 93 years that will be presented in December.

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