The relaunched Winston Graham Historical Fiction Prize announced its 2024 winner at the Royal Cornwall Museum on Friday.

Cuddy by Benjamin Myers offers a fictionalised take on the life of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne.

Four of the shortlisted authors - Alan Warner, Joanna Quinn, Kim Sherwood and Jo Baker - with Royal Cornwall Museum director Bryony Robins
(Toby Weller)

Five other works were shortlisted for the prize: The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn; The Midnight News by Jo Baker; Nothing Left to Fear from Hell by Alan Warner; Music in the Dark by Sally Magnusson; and A Wild and True Relation by Kim Sherwood.  

The judging panel included award-winning novelist Louis de Bernieres, novelist and poet AK Blakemore, and Truro-based author Charlotte Hobson as chair.

The award is made in the name of the Poldark author, who lived in Perranporth. This is the first time entries have been invited beyond Cornwall, with an emphasis on a powerful sense of place.

Winston Graham's son Andrew and his wife Peggotty
(Toby Weller)

Winston Graham’s daughter-in-law, Peggotty, said: “He spent large portions of his life in Cornwall but never lost his Lancastrian accent, so it is wonderful we have been able to bring a wider range of people to this prize.”

The museum's main hall was packed for the announcement of the Winston Graham literary prize, including staff from Truro Waterstones
(Toby Weller)

Announcing the winner, Louis de Bernieres said: “I feared it would be contentious, and we all started off with a different favourite. But we came to a consensus and this is a worthy winner – strange and extremely original, bringing to life the north of England.”

Winner Benjamin Myers appeared via Zoom
(Toby Weller)

Mr Myers was unable to attend due to a medical emergency, but appeared by Zoom, saying: “A win like this can put you on a high for months – it’s all the encouragement a writer needs.”