Friday, April 25, 2008


Nature's Engraver by Jenny Uglow wins 2007 National Award for Arts Writing

The Arts Club of Washington has announced the winner of the second annual National Award for Arts Writing. The winning book, published in the previous year, must be about the arts and written for a general audience. The prize of $15,000 is one of the largest monetary prizes in the U.S. for a single book. Intended to help increase access to the arts, the prize is given in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts for a broad audience, and celebrates prose that is lucid, luminous, clear, and inspiring.

The honors go to Jenny Uglow for Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. The book describes the life and achievements of the man who produced the first Field Guide to birds for ordinary people, illustrated with woodcuts of remarkable accuracy and beauty. These woodcuts, in turn, influenced book illustration for the next century.

The book was unanimously chosen by three prestigious judges: former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, award-winning novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and America's favorite librarian Nancy Pearl. The judges write: “Uglow’s plain, richly elegant sentences present a career that, fascinating in itself, becomes a way of thinking about all art: the tools, the materials, the personality and the surroundings, all interacting with the artist’s craving to make a new reality.”

Jenny Uglow is an editor at Chatto & Windus and lives in Canterbury, England. Her book The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future 1730–1810 won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography in 2002, and the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for history from International PEN in 2003. Her biographies Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories and Hogarth: A Life and a World were both finalists for the Whitbread Prize for biography. She will be presented with the Order of the British Empire by the Queen of England this May 16.

Ms. Uglow will give a public reading from Nature's Engraver at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street, NW, Washington, DC, on Monday, May 19 at 7:00 pm.

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