Simon Mawer’s Tightrope wins Walter Scott prize for historical fiction


Simon Mawer
Simon Mawer has won the 2016 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel Tightrope. The author received his award from the Duke of Buccleuch, at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival on Saturday 18th June.
Mawer won the award for his novel Tightrope, which continues the story of Marian Sutro, who has survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp and is now living in 1950s London. It is Simon Mawer’s tenth novel; his seventh, The Glass Room, was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize in 2010.
Simon Mawer said on receiving the award:
‘I would like to thank Marian Sutro, who is very close to my heart, and probably of all my characters, in all my fiction, is the one most alive to me, and I owe her a great deal. ‘
Tightrope was chosen from a shortlist of six novels, with settings ranging from Canada, Australia, and 20th century Europe. The other authors on the 2016 shortlist were William Boyd, Patrick Gale, Gavin McCrea, Allan Massie, and Lucy Treloar.
Walter Scott prize
Simon Mawer was born in 1948 and spent his childhood in England, Cyprus and Malta.
He studied zoology at Brasenose College, Oxford, and has had a career as a biology teacher. He lives in Italy.
He is the author of two books of non-fiction: A Place in Italy (1992), an account of two years living in an Italian village; and Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics (2006), a book written with Field Museum, Chicago, exploring Mendel and his legacy, and linked to the museum’s exhibition of the same name.
His first novel, Chimera, winner of the McKitterick Prize, was published in 1989, and is partly set in Italy, where he has lived since the 1970s. This was followed by The Bitter Cross (1992); a historical novel set in the Mediterranean in the 16th century; and A Jealous God (1996).
In 1997, Mendel’s Dwarf, based around the life of Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, and the modern day experiences of his great-great-great nephew, a molecular biologist, was shortlisted for the 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was followed by The Gospel of Judas (2000), also set partly in Italy, a literary suspense thriller revolving around the discovery of a lost papyrus scroll near the Dead Sea. The Fall (2003) is set in the world of British rockclimbing in the early 1970s and won the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountaineering Literature the same year.
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