Past winners


Book of the year: Iron Man by Lynne Bryan (Salt Publishing)

In Iron Man, Lynne Bryan writes movingly and candidly about disability, the vulnerability of the body and mind, and the frailty and strength of our corporeality. She writes insightfully and thought-provokingly about the ways in which women’s access to head space and the physical and economic space for creativity can be restricted or blocked – sometimes by the people they love best and who love them best; and, of course, sometimes by themselves.

The judging panel praised the book for its non-linear structure and shift in narrative voice which explores how Bryan’s father’s disability affected his life, his identity, and his relationship with his wife and daughters: ‘Through this, Bryan shines a light on an effect of ableism not often discussed.’

Lynne Bryan said:

‘If feels absolutely amazing to win. I’ve never won anything for my writing so this is a big thing for me. Iron Man was so very difficult to write and very difficult to place with a publisher. I’m grateful to Salt for being brave enough to take the book on. I’m just thrilled. This prize will give me the confidence to keep writing.’

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Category winners

Spark by Mitch Johnson (Hachette Children’s Group), Wingfield: Suffolk’s Forgotten Castle by Elaine Murphy (Poppyland Publishing), Stewkey Blues: Stories by D. J. Taylor (Salt Publishing), The Art of Doris and Anna Zinkeisen by Philip Kelleway, Emma Roodhouse, and Nicola Evans (Unicorn), Boudicca by Matt Haw (Templar Poetry). 

Category shortlists

Arthur the Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Walker Books Ltd), The Other Side of the Whale Road by K.A. Hayton (Eye Books), Some Splendid Noise by David Edwards (Gresham Publications), The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874 by Phyllida Scrivens (Pen & Sword Books Ltd), Your Show by Ashley Hickson-Lovence (Faber & Faber), The Bewitching by Jill Dawson (Hodder & Stoughton), Sea-Change by Jessica Streeting (Propolis), Constable: A Portrait by James Hamilton (Orion Publishing Co), Hello, Stranger by Will Buckingham (Granta Books), Creating Constable by Emma Roodhouse and Caleb Howgego (Blackmore), Deception Island by Elizabeth Lewis-Williams (Story Machine), Ovarium by Joanna Ingham (The Emma Press). Find out more →


Book of the year: The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary by Melissa Harrison (Faber & Faber)

The Stubborn Light of Things is a diary compiled from Harrison’s beloved ‘Nature Notebook’ column in The Times, mapping her relocation from London to rural Suffolk and her joyful engagement with the natural world. The book demonstrates how we must first learn to see, and then act to preserve, the beauty we have on our doorsteps – no matter where we live.

The judging panel praised the book for its uplifting writing and deep passion for the Suffolk countryside. They described it as ‘a book with a mission that stands well for this moment’.

Melissa Harrison said:

‘If you write about place – and especially, if you write about somewhere other than the place where you grew up – local recognition becomes particularly precious. Having fallen helplessly in love with this part of the world, I’m so proud that The Stubborn Light of Things has been named East Anglian Book of the Year.’

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Category winners

The Easternmost Sky: Adapting to Change in the 21st Century by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone Press Ltd), The Stranding by Kate Sawyer (Hodder & Stoughton), The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary by Melissa Harrison (Faber & Faber), How Norwich Fought Against the Plague: Lessons from the Past by Frank Meeres (Poppyland Publishing), The Wolf Road by Richard Lambert (Everything with Words), Rose With Harm by Daniel Hardisty (Salt Publishing). Find out more [link to article: Category winners announced for the East Anglian Book Awards 2021]

Category shortlists

George Skipper – The Architect’s Life and Works by Richard Barnes (Frontier Publishing Ltd), Watercolour Words Fifty Years by John Hurst (Marshland Arts), The Talk of Pram Town by Joanna Nadin (Pan Macmillan), Glass Arrows by Heather Peck (SilverWood Books Ltd), Highways and Byways: Illustrated Walks in Norfolk by Marion Addy (Marion Addy), Apparitions of East Anglia by Chris Spalton (Fenbeast Publications), The End of the Road: A Journey around Britain in Search of the Dead by Jack Cooke (HarperCollins), Harriet Kettle: Pauper, Prisoner, Patient and Parent in Victorian Norfolk by Andy Reid (Poppyland Publishing), Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna (Hachette), The Forest of Moon and Sword by Amy Raphael (Hachette), Boy in Various Poses by Lewis Buxton (Nine Arches Press), The Feel-Good Movie of the Year by Luke Wright (Penned in the Margins). Find out more →


Book of the Year: The House of One Hundred Clocks by A.M. Howell (Usborne)

Helena and her parrot, Orbit, are swept off to Cambridge when her father is appointed clock-winder to one of the wealthiest men in England. There is only one rule: the clocks must never stop. But Helena discovers the house of one hundred clocks holds many mysteries; a ghostly figure, strange notes and disappearing winding keys. Can she work out its secrets before time runs out?

Ann-Marie (A.M.) Howell said:

‘I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the Book of the Year Award! I’m still reeling at my book being selected from such an incredibly brilliant list of category winners. As well as living in the beautiful east of England, the history and landscape of this region provides huge inspiration for my children’s novels, making this award even more special. A huge thank you to all the award organisers and judges.’

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Category winners

How To Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe (Myriad Editions), The Choice by Claire Wade (Orion), New York to California by Jeremy Page (Propolis), Imperial Mud: The Fight for the Fens by James Boyce (Icon Books), So Many Rooms by Laura Scott (Carcanet). Find out more →

Category shortlists

Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country by Edward Parnell (HarperCollins), Push: My Father, Polio, and Me by Sarah Passingham (Gatehouse Press), She by HC Warner (HarperCollins), Spirals of Fate by Tim Holden (Nielsen), Mary Hardy and her World 1773-1809: Volume 2, Barley, beer and the working year by Margaret Bird (Burnham Press), Wild Child by Patrick Barkham (Granta), East Anglian Church Porches and their Medieval Context by Helen E. Lunnon (Boydell and Brewer), Mary Hardy and her World 1773-1809: Volume 4, Under sail and under arms by Margaret Bird (Burnham Press), Do You Love Bugs? by Matt Robertson (Bloomsbury), The Misadventures of Frederick by Ben Manley, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark (Two Hoots), A warm and snouting thing by Ramona Herdman (The Emma Press), The Remains of Logan Dankworth by Luke Wright (Penned in the Margins). Find out more →


Book of the Year: A Claxton Diary: Further Field Notes from a Small Planet by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)

A collection of sensory, short essays on the Norfolk landscape, the book ranges over almost everything that can be seen, touched or smelt; from the minute to the cosmic, from a strange micromoth called yellow-barred longhorn to that fiercest of winter storms the ‘Beast from the East’.

Peggy Hughes, one of the judges and Executive Director at the National Centre for Writing, described the book as ‘combining boundless knowledge with huge passion and clarity of observation… he also calls our urgent attention to the impact of the present climate emergency, making this book both timely and timeless at once.’

Category winners

The Photographer at Sixteen by George Szirtes (Maclehose), I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock (Mantle), A Very Dangerous Locality by Robert Liddiard and David Sims (University of Hertfordshire Press), Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Walker), The Built Moment by Lavinia Greenlaw (Faber).

Category shortlists

Eye on the Hill: Horse Travels in Britain by Richard Barnes (Frontier), The Easternmost House by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone), The Rumour by Lesley Kara (Corgi), How It Ends by Saskia Sarginson (Piatkus), Landscape of Towers by Clive Dunn (Lasse Press), Wings Over Water by Alan Marshall (Mascot Media), From Bears to Bishops: Norfolk’s Medieval Church Carvings by Paul Harley (Mascot Media), Crossing the Bar by Robert Smith with Zoe Dunford (Harbour Master), Grumpy Duck by Joyce Dunbar and Petr Horacek (Walker), How to Help a Hedgehog and Protect a Polar Bear by Jess French and Angela Keoghan (Nosy Crow), Girl by Rebecca Goss (Carcanet), The Anatomical Venus by Helen Ivory (Bloodaxe). Find out more →


Book of the Year: The East Country: Almanac Tales of Valley and Shore by Jules Pretty (Comstock)

A mix of memoir, natural history, cultural critique and spiritual reflection, this work of creative non-fiction follows the seasons through 74 tales set in a variety of landscapes, from valley to salty shore.

Peggy Hughes, one of the judges, described the book as ‘meditative, poetic and spare, a compelling praise song for the natural world and a call to us to hold it dear. We were absorbed by it.’

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Category winners

This Hollow Land: Aspects of Norfolk Folklore by Peter Tolhurst (Black Dog Books), The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923 – 2017 by Phyllida Scrivens (Pen & Sword), Kick by Mitch Johnson (Usborne), Gall by Matt Howard (Rialto), Devoured by Anna Mackmin (Propolis).

Category shortlists: Ink in my Blood: My half century in newspapers by Neil Haverson (Paul Dickson publisher), A Life in Norfolk’s Archaeology 1950-2016 by Peter Wade-Martins (Archaeopress), Rock’n’Roll is Life by DJ Taylor (Constable & Robinson), The Great Level by Stella Tilyard (Chatto & Windus), Monday Market by Ben Elwes (Section Press), Cultures of the Countryside: Art, Museums, Heritage, Environment by Veronica Sekules (Routledge), Humphry Repton in Norfolk edited by Sally Bate, Rachel Savage and Tom Williamson (Norfolk Gardens Trust), Maritime Suffolk by Robert Maltster (Poppyland), Birdy & Bou: The Floating Library by David Bedford and Mandy Stanley (Simon & Schuster), Worzel Says Hello! Will You Be My Friend? by Catherine Pickles (Veloce), The Wound Register by Esther Morgan (Bloodaxe), Suffolk Bang by Adam Warne (Gatehouse Press). Find out more →


Book of the Year: Lapwing and Fox: Conversations between John Berger and John Christie by John Christie (Objectif)

Lapwing & Fox is a series of conversations in the form of letters and small books sent between two friends, writer and critic John Berger and artist and film-maker John Christie, covering a wide range of ideas surrounding art and artists, drawing and painting, nature and place.

The judges said:

‘We were impressed by the combination of fine writing and production values in this handsome book from a local publisher and with a strong local flavour.’

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Category winners

Madame Zero by Sarah Hall (Faber), The Owl at the Window by Carl Gorham (Coronet), Holkham by Christine Hiskey (Unicorn Press), Was and Is by Neil Powell (Carcanet), The Nearest Far Away Place by Hayley Long (Hot Key Books).

Category shortlists

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper (Hodder), The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico (Faber), New Year’s Day is Black by Nicki Loutit (Propolis), From Norfolk to Normandy: The Wartime Art of Captain Julian Cory-Wright RA by Alan Marshall and Juliet Webster (Mascot Media), Two Points East by Judith Ellis (Judith Ellis), Norwich 1945-60 by Frances and Michael Holmes (Norwich Heritage Projects), Wandering in Norfolk: Time Lines and Crossing Places by David Howe (Mousehold Press), Subterranean Norwich: The Grain of the City by Matthew Williams (Lasse Press), The Nameless Places by Richard Lambert (Arc), The Straight Man by Sarah Roby (Templar Poetry), Fenn Halflin and the Seaborn by Francesca Armour-Chelu (Walker Books), Migloo’s Weekend by William Bee (Walker Books). Find out more →


Book of the Year: The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson (Hodder & Stoughton)

Masterfully recreating Highsmith’s much exercised fantasies of murder and madness, Jill Dawson probes the darkest reaches of the imagination in this novel – at once a brilliant portrait of a writer and an atmospheric, emotionally charged, riveting tale.

The judges described the book, published by Hodder & Stoughton, as ‘atmospheric, suspenseful and compelling’.

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Category winners

Jumpin’ Jack Flash by Keiron Pim (Jonathan Cape), Heyday: Britain and the Birth of the Modern World by Ben Wilson (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), The Print Museum by Heidi Williamson (Bloodaxe), Lost Country Houses of Norfolk: History, Archaeology and Myth by Tom Williamson, Ivan Ringwood and Sarah Spooner (Boydell & Brewer), Longbow Girl by Linda Davies (Chicken House).

Previous book of the year winners

2015: Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)

2014: After Me Comes The Flood by Sarah Perry (Serpent’s Tail)

2013: Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia edited by Ian Collins (East Publishing / SCVA)

2012: The Last Hunters by Candy Whittome (Full Circle Editions)

2011: Edith Cavell by Diana Souhami (Quercus)

2010: The Widow’s Tale by Mick Jackson (Faber and Faber)

2009: Building Norfolk by Matthew Rice (Frances Lincoln)

2008: Scapegallows by Carol Birch (Virago)