Walter Scott Prize Longlist Announced

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Mrs EngelsDublin-born author Gavin McCrea's debut novel 'Mrs Engels' has been longlisted along with twelve other books for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. Founded in 2010, the prize is awarded for "writing of exceptional quality which is set in the past". Eligible books must have been first published in the UK, Ireland or Commonwealth in the preceding year.

The winner of the Walter Scott Prize receives st£25,000, making it is one of the largest literary awards in the UK.

The longlist is:-

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Sweet Caress by William Boyd

A Petrol Scented Spring by Ajay Close

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

Dictator by Robert Harris

Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt

Death and Mr Pickwickby Stephen Jarvis

Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea

End Games in Bordeaux by Allan Massie

Tightrope by Simon Mawer

Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss

Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar

Mrs Engels tells the story of two illiterate Irish sisters from a Manchester slum, Mary and Lizzie Burns, who greatly influenced Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Lizzie was Engel's illiterate common-law wife. The book was also longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2015.

Reviews of 'Mrs Engels' were largely positive. "This whirlwind of politics and personalities might become dizzying were it not stabilised by Lizzie’s unmistakable voice," wrote Helen Dunmore in The Guardian. "She begins life by grabbing what she needs in order to survive; she ends it having achieved deep self-knowledge. She tells her own story with a fierce wit and trenchancy, shot through with poetry... McCrea's fictional speculation makes a fine symphony out of the silence that surrounds Lizzie Burns."

Declan Burks wrote in The Examiner, "Lizzie Burns is one of the most charming fictional comic creations of recent times... Mrs Engels is a stunningly accomplished debut novel."

Mario Reading in The Spectator called Mrs Engels "an assured, beautifully-written debut, about a woman wiser than her lover perhaps, and slowly growing into herself – reminiscent of Molly Bloom in Ulysses. Eleanor Marx wrote that Lizzie was 'illiterate and could not read or write, but she was true, honest and in some ways as fine-souled a woman as you could meet'. Going by this, McCrea describes her perfectly."

Gavin McCrea was born in Dublin in 1978 and has since travelled widely, living in Japan, Italy and Spain, among other places. He holds a BA and an MA from University College Dublin, and an MA and a PhD from the University of East Anglia. He currently divides his time between Britain and Spain.

The Walter Scott Prize shortlist will be announced in March, and the winner will be announced on 18th June.

Last year's winning book was 'The Ten Thousand Things' by John Spurling. Ireland's Sebastian Barry won with 'On Canaan's Side' in 2012.

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