Read three of the best biographies and memoirs based in the East of England
Our weekly spotlight on an East Anglian Book Awards 2023 shortlist

Through November and December, we’re casting a weekly spotlight on some of the best books based or published in the East of England, courtesy of the East Anglian Book Awards 2023.

Now in their sixteenth year, the awards celebrate the very best of publishing, writing, and reading in the region. The East Anglian Book Awards are a partnership between Jarrolds, the Eastern Daily Press, and the National Centre for Writing, supported by UEA Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

National Centre for Writing            UEA University of East Anglia

Biography & Memoir

Judged by Stephen Bumfrey, former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter


For fans of local history…

An Angel Amongst Strange Bears: John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, Blickling Hall by Joy Beresford Frye (Poppyland Publishing)

John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire is buried in the strange pyramid mausoleum in the grounds of Blickling Hall. This is the first extensive biography of John Hobart, whose curriculum vitae included being Ambassador to Catherine the Great of Russia before becoming Lord Lieutenant and Viceroy of Ireland at the time of the War of American Independence and revolution in France, a post which revealed his insecurity and lack of confidence in his own abilities.

Joy Beresford Frye, who, as a volunteer guide at Blickling, became curious as to why the 2nd Earl and his two wives came to rest in such an unusual place.

Born in Norfolk and motherless at the age of four, John Hobart was brought up in large part at Marble Hill, Twickenham by his beloved aunt, Henrietta Howard, the legendary former mistress of George II.  A convivial young man, he thoroughly enjoyed his Grand Tour in Italy and on return played his part in Georgian society. As Member of Parliament for Norwich he immersed himself in politics where local duties were sometimes onerous, remarking, “I was told it would be extremely proper for me to dance with the Mayor’s daughter in law, a beauteous maiden of fifty, but declined the honor and content’d myself with gazing upon her at a distance”.

Our judge said:

‘This thorough account of Hobart’s life is a colourful and intriguing step into Norfolk’s thriving and sometimes turbulent past. It ventures deep into 18th century social standing, from its extravagant elite to those somewhat less solvent – and their attempts to disguise their huge debts.’


For anyone interested in learning more about ADHD…

Sit Still Timmy! by Tim MacWilliam (Amazon)

Sit Still Timmy! is a self-help book combined into a life story of late-diagnosed ADHD designed to assist those with the condition, those yet to be diagnosed, and close family members forced to endure the daily fallout of unpredictable behaviour.

The number of people diagnosed with ADHD skyrocketed during the Covid-19 Lockdown. As a result, there is a small tsunami of people desperate for first-hand knowledge and help from someone who has first-hand experience of living with the condition before and after diagnosis to give a level of understanding and empathy.

The book explores how other associated conditions such as OCD, depression, sensitivity, extreme daydreaming, issues with anger and epilepsy are all associated with ADHD. A chapter is also devoted to the medications and therapy available and their effect.


For fans of moving life writing…

36 Hours by Fiona Mason (Word After Word)

Less than a year after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer, Fiona Mason’s husband died at home. She was his carer. Unflinching in its detail, this book is a delicate chronicle of his last day and an account of thirty-six hours that changed her life. It’s also an invitation to find better ways to talk about death and dying.

Our judge said:

‘“36 Hours” dismantles all barriers and walls as Fiona shares the realities of caring for her dying husband.

It was as uncomfortable to follow Michael’s decline as it was to share Fiona’s arduous struggle to rationalise her emotions during a permanent state of anxiety. “Simply wanting to get back to an ordinary life.”

His speech repetition and hallucinations. Her permanent state of feeling bleak, alone and with no respite. The failed treatments. The matter-of-fact nurse. His “unceremonious departure from the house.” I read “36 Hours” in one hit, save from the four or five occasions when I had to put the book down, step into the back garden and catch my breath for a few minutes.’

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