Adam Nicolson

Adam Nicolson is an English author, former journalist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He writes highly regarded non-fiction on the themes of history, language, literature and nature. A winner of both the Royal Society of Literature’s Heinemann Award (Power and Glory, 2004) and Ondaatje Prize (Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History, 2009), in 2018 he won the Wainwright Prize with his book about the lives, habitats, threats and passions of UK seabirds, The Seabird’s Cry. Nicolson has also made several television series, and in 2014 won a Scottish BAFTA for Britain’s Whale Hunters. His most recent book, How to Be: Life Lessons from the Early Greeks marks his 25th publication and is on the shortlist for the 2024 Runciman Award.

What a complete and life-enlarging delight it is to have been given this prize! A trinity of the very best of modern novelists has won it before and so, as a non-fiction writer, it feels like the greatest of honours to be joined to them. Gainsborough said on his deathbed that ‘We are all going to Heaven and Van Dyck is of the company’ and that is something of what this prize makes me feel.

Nothing could be better than to celebrate reading. If writing is a famously solitary act, then reading is the great connector. The reader is always present when I write something, a co-actor in the process, its motive and purpose in fact, and the great companion for any writing. I often think writing is reading.” Adam Nicolson

“Adam Nicolson has created a unique voice,  a form of narrative non-fiction that includes elements of memoir but also of intellectual depth and knowledge, whilst always retaining an almost painterly attention to detail and to language. He is an emotional writer, but also someone who is able to deftly navigate the depths and the shallows, the sublime and the intimate, the scholarly and the familial – indeed navigation itself seems to me a theme running through his authorship. But this is a prize about the pleasure of reading – and the pleasure of reading Adam Nicolson is really in that combination of intellectual heft and the personal tone. You sense the presence of the author in the room as you read.”  Pleasure of Reading Prize Judges

The Pleasure of Reading Prize 2024 will be shared between Adam Nicolson and Give a Book project of his choice.

The Pleasure of Reading Prize Judges 2024:

  • Lady Antonia Fraser, CH, writer and biographer (Chair)
  • Sebastian Barry, author and The Pleasure of Reading Prize Winner 2023
  • Sigrid Rausing, philanthropist, anthropologist and publisher
  • James Naughtie, writer and special correspondent
  • Rosie Andrews, author
  • Victoria Gray, Executive Director of Give a Book (Secretary)