2017 Eccles British Library Writer's Award Winners Announced


Along with The Eccles Centre at the British Library we are absolutely thrilled to share that novelist Hannah Kohler and writer, film producer and member of the Mercury-nominated pop group Saint Etienne, Bob Stanley, are the joint winners of the 2017 Eccles British Library Writer’s Award.

Now in its sixth year, The Eccles British Library Writer’s Award was set up as part of the Eccles 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 winner is awarded £20,000 and will use the British Library’s collections to research their upcoming publications during their residency which starts in January 2017. 

Kohler, whose first novel, THE OUTSIDE LANDS, was published by Picador earlier in 2016 and will be published in paperback in January 2017, will be researching her second novel, CATSPAW, which follows two women from Chicago to the Sierra foothills during the California Gold Rush of 1849. The Gold Rush told people they could be somebody different, and for Pearl Nye and Emeline Snow, it offers the opportunity to escape the constraints of their lives in Victorian-era America. It’s the story of the corrosive and curative powers of desir and the complications of friendship.    

Following on from YEAH YEAH YEAH: The Story of Modern Pop, Stanley will be researching his new book, TOO DARN HOT: THE STORY OF POPULAR MUSIC.  Pop music existed before rock ‘n’ roll.  It had existed for more than fifty years. TOO DARN HOT will make sense of the crucial 50-year period from the very first recorded music to the rock ‘n’ roll era; the major stars, the songwriters, the leaps in technology, the heroes and heroines, and their links to the modern pop era. The book will show how the relationship between Britain and America created the sounds of Broadway and Hollywood, and how immigrant cultures rubbed together and shaped the future with songs purpose-built to sell. Together they provided the soundtrack of the twentieth century.                                                                                                                              

The connection with the Eccles Centre will allow Kohler and Stanley to research their projects in the great surroundings of the British Library, and to use the Centre’s programme and networks to engage with other researchers, students and members of the public.    

Director of the Eccles Centre, Professor Philip Davies, says, ‘the latest winners of this fabulous award bring the total number of Eccles British Library Writer’s Award holders to a dozen, and the total investment in the future of these writers to almost a quarter of a million pounds, at a time when we are marking 25 years of the Eccles Centre. Together the British Library’s collections, the Eccles Centre’s support and the Award winners’ vision combine in the production of great works founded firmly on the greatest research collections.’

The judges for the Award this year were Professor Sarah Churchwell, Professorial Fellow in American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, Richard Carwardine, formerly President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 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 Dr Mercedes Aguirre, Lead Curator for the Americas at the British Library.   Such was the high standard of submissions for this year’s award, that again, two awards were given.

Congratulations Hannah and Bob!