Alan Warner and Tanya Harrod announced as winners of Britain’s oldest literary awards at Edinburgh International Book Festival

A novel inspired by a seaport in the Scottish Highlands and a biography of a renowned potter are the winners of Britain's oldest literary awards announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this evening. Acclaimed novelist Alan Warner and celebrated art historian Tanya Harrod have joined the roll call of celebrated writers to win the James Tait Black Prizes.

The winners of the £10,000 prizes - awarded annually by the English Literature department at the University of Edinburgh - were announced this evening by broadcaster Sally Magnusson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Oban-born author Alan Warner, who already has a string of prestigious prizes to his name, is winner of the fiction prize for his book The Deadman's Pedal. Among his successes was his first novel, Movern Callar, later adapted into a film starring Samantha Morton.

Prize-winning writer Tanya Harrod, co-editor of the Journal of Modern Craft, is the recipient of the biography prize for her book The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew, Modern Pots, Colonialism and the Counterculture.

Two prizes are awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh for books published during the previous year - one for the best work of fiction and the other for the best biography.

Fiction winner Alan Warner topped a shortlist that featured The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan; The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn and Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner.

Tanya Harrod's book was chosen from a shortlist that also included: Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece by Michael Gorra; Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie; Circulation: William Harvey's Revolutionary Idea by Thomas Wright.

Fiction judge Lee Spinks of the University of Edinburgh said ‘Alan Warner's The Deadman's Pedal is an exceptionally fine novel, richly evocative in detail, beautifully poised in execution, which in the story of one young man's journey to adulthood through the mysteries of childhood, sexuality, work, the realities of class society and the experience of divided family loyalties, offers a compelling poetic vision of a changing Scotland.’

Biography judge Professor Jonathan Wild of the University of Edinburgh said ‘Tanya Harrod's The Last Sane Man offers an exceptional portrait of a remarkable craftsman and his world. Harrod constructs this biography with the same eye for form and purpose that marked the work of her subject.’

The James Tait Black Awards were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband's love of good books.

Earlier this year the prize was extended to include a new category for drama.

Each year more than 400 novels are read by academics and postgraduate students who nominate books for the shortlist.

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