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Walter Scott historical fiction novel prize winner announced

Christine Dwyer Hickey won £25,000 for her novel The Narrow Road.

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Christine Dwyer Hickey won for her novel The Narrow Road (Handout/PA)

Christine Dwyer Hickey won for her novel The Narrow Road (Handout/PA)

Christine Dwyer Hickey won for her novel The Narrow Road (Handout/PA)

The winner of the £25,000 historical fiction Walter Scott prize has been announced as Christine Dwyer Hickey.

The Irish author has won the 11th annual prize for her novel The Narrow Land, which follows the story of Edward and Jo Hopper.

Ms Dwyer Hickey accepted the prize live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Friday evening.

The award would normally be handed out at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, but due to lockdown this was cancelled.

The judges of the prize said that it was risky business to explore such well known artists, whose life had been picked apart by biographers over the years.

However, they added: “Ms Dwyer Hickey has embraced the risk and created a masterpiece. In The Narrow Land, she reaches into the guts of the marriage of Jo and Edward Hopper and into the heart of the creative impulse itself.”

The judging panel for the 2020 Prize comprised Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark, and chairwoman Katie Grant.

Ms Dwyer Hickey said in her video acceptance speech: “Writing a novel takes a big chunk of one’s life – The Narrow Land was six years in the making – which is why I really, really appreciate this recognition.

“I would like to send my thoughts to a grave in a hillside cemetery in Nyack, overlooking the Hudson river, a few miles from New York City, where the artists Edward and Jo Hopper lie, and where I hope they have at last found peace.

“I also hope they will forgive me the intrusion.”

The Walter Scott Prize was founded in 2009 to reward the best fiction set 60 or more years ago, and is open to novels published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth.

It was founded to honour the achievements of Sir Walter Scott, considered to be the inventor of the historical novel.

PA