The Walter Scott Prize Academy

The Prize’s founder and sponsor the Duke of Buccleuch launched the Walter Scott Prize Academy in 2016.  Designed to broaden the global reach and strengthen the resources of the Prize, the Academy is an advisory group feeding into the submission and judging process, comprising people at the centre of literary life in the UK and in Commonwealth countries around the world, whose positions and knowledge give them a unique standpoint to help the Prize find its winners.

The 2019 Academy Recommends list has now been published!  Read our news post on the list here.   Read more about the twenty books below.

2019 Walter Scott Prize Academy Members

Simon Savidge, Savidge Reads and Liverpool Central Libraries, UK

Lola Shoneyin, Director, Ake Arts & Books Festival, Lagos, Nigeria

Frankie Murrey, Festival Co-ordinator, Open Book Festival, Cape Town, South Africa

Ahsan Akbar, Dhaka Literary Festival, Bangladesh

Vivian Bannerman, Main Street Books, St Boswells, Scottish Borders, UK

Karen Howlett, Cornflower Books blog, UK

Lynne Hatwell, Dovegreyreader blog, UK

Roland Gulliver, Associate Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival

Hal Wake, former Artistic Director, Vancouver International Writer’s Festival

More about the 2019 Academy Recommends list

Love Is Blind  by William Boyd (Viking)

Set at the end of the 19th century, this sweeping novel follows the fortunes of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish musician, about to embark on the story of his life.  It is Boyd’s most immersive historical novel yet.

The Prince Of Mirrors by Alan Robert Clark (Fairlight Books)

Who would have thought that the story of the relationship between Queen Victoria’s eldest son Albert Victor (Eddy) and his personal tutor Jem Stephens would be so powerful and affecting – but it so invades every aspect of the heir presumptive’s life that it takes over the reader entirely.

The Making Of Martin Sparrow by Peter Cochrane (Viking Australia)

Set against the awe-inspiring immensity of the hinterland west of the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales, this epic of chance and endurance is an immersion into another time.

So Much Life Left Over by Louis de Bernieres (Harvill Secker)

A sweeping, heartbreaking novel following Daniel in his troubled marriage with Rosie as they navigate the unsettled time between the World Wars.

All Among The Barley by Melissa Harrison (Bloomsbury)

Fourteen-year-old Edie Mather lives with her family at Wych Farm in Suffolk, where the shadow of the Great War still hangs over a community impoverished by the Great Depression.

The Hundred Wells Of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah (Cassava Republic)

Two women’s lives converge in this story of courage, forgiveness, love and freedom, set in pre-colonial Ghana.

Only Killers And Thieves by Paul Howarth (Pushkin Press)

Set against Australia’s harsh landscapes, thisis a compelling, devastating novel about cruelty and survival, injustice and honour, and about two brothers united in grief, then forever torn apart.

Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile by Alice Jolly (Unbound)

Written in verse, this tale of treachery, loyalty and deceit is set during the Chartist movement against the mechanisation of the mills. Fascinating to read, bizarre, disturbing, and poignant.

The Black Earth by Philip Kazan  (Allison & Busby)

At its heart this is a vivid and compelling love story between Zoe Haggitiris, a young refugee from Smyrna, and Tom Collyer, an artist/soldier, whose paths cross during the German occupation of Greece in WW2.

The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson (Two Roads)

1627.  In a notorious historical event, pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people into slavery in Algiers.Sally Magnusson’s lyrical novel imagines what history does not record.

Mad Blood Stirring by Simon Mayo (Doubleday)

On the eve of the year 1815, the captured sailors of the Eaglearrive at Dartmoor prison; bedraggled, exhausted, sustained only by a rumour heard along the way.  A convincing depiction of a period of history and events which are forgotten, told with fluency and compassion for all those involved.

As The Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray (Saraband)

This powerful, moving and harrowing novel about the Iolaire disaster off the Isle of Lewis explores how a single event can so dramatically impact communities, individuals and, indeed, our very souls.

Kintu by Jennifer Nansubaga Makumbi (Oneworld)

In this epic tale of fate, fortune and legacy, Jennifer Makumbi vibrantly brings to life this corner of Africa as she reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan.

The Angel’s Mark by S W Perry (Corvus)

Both a whodunnit and a tale of political and social unrest and upheaval in late Elizabethan England, peopled by real historical characters.  A tour de force.

A View Of The Empire At Sunset by Caryl Phillips (Vintage)

Gwendolen – not yet truly famous as the writer Jean Rhys – is presented with the opportunity she has been waiting for. Her husband has received an unexpected inheritance; she can, at last, return to the island of her childhood.

Painter To The King by Amy Sackville (Granta)

This masterful portrait of Diego Velazquez, painter at the court of King Philip IV of Spain, is also a portrait of a relationship that is not quite a friendship, between an artist and his subject.  A subtle and fascinating novel.

A Treachery Of Spies by Manda Scott (Bantam Press)

An espionage thriller to rival the very best; a high stakes game of cat-and-mouse, played in the shadows, which will keep you guessing every step of the way.

The Tristan Chord by Glenn Skwerer (Unbound)

An imagined account of Hitler’s youth through the eyes of his only childhood and adolescent friend, based on a genuine memoir. A fascinating and absorbing read.

Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson (Corsair)

Beautifully written novel about Lucie Schwob (Claude Cahun) and Suzanne Malherbe (Marcel Moore), artists/writers/photographers on the fringe of the French 1920 surrealist movement.  Elegant, arresting and accomplished.

The Madonna Of The Mountains by Elise Valmorbida (Faber)

Opening in 1923 in north eastern Italy, we follow Maria’s life of hardship, poverty, religious strictures and the small lives led in a village at the first blooming of Fascism.