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Baillie Gifford to sponsor non-fiction prize

Baillie GiffordBaillie Gifford, the Edinburgh-based investment management partnership, has signed a five-year agreement to become sponsor of the UK’s premier literary prize for non-fiction books, the Samuel Johnson Prize.

Under the terms of its sponsorship, the prize will be renamed The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction and the organisers aim to build it over the next five years into the pre-eminent non-fiction book award in the world.

Over the past 17 years, and with the guidance of distinguished members of its steering committee and judges, a growing community of loyal followers, and a history of exceptional winners, including Antony Beevor, Kate Summerscale, Philip Hoare and Helen Macdonald, the Samuel Johnson Prize has gone from strength to strength, and is now established in the top tier of literary prizes.

The prize aims to recognise and reward the very best in high quality non-fiction, and is open to books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.  Authors of any nationality, whose work is published in the UK in English in any given year, are eligible. The 2015 award was presented on 2 November to American author Steve Silberman for Neurotribes – the first popular science book to win in its 17 year history.

Sponsoring the prize continues a long tradition at Baillie Gifford of supporting literary and cultural events. These constitute one aspect of its commitment to good citizenship, alongside academic sponsorship and charitable giving focused in the Edinburgh area.

Sarah Whitley, partner of Baillie Gifford and chairman of its sponsorship committee, said: “Our long term commitment to the prize reflects our belief in the importance of supporting key literary and cultural events, and I am pleased that we have now added such an eminent award to our other literary relationships.

“We look forward to working with the prize organisers and will continue to advance its motto that all the best stories are true.”

Lord King of Lothbury, former Governor of the Bank of England and member of the steering committee of the Samuel Johnson Prize, said: “I am confident that the Samuel Johnson Prize will be much strengthened under the aegis of Baillie Gifford.

“The prize has done a superb job drawing attention to outstanding non-fiction books for many years, but will now have the capacity now to enhance its activities and in particular, to extend its reach into the US.”

Stuart Proffitt, chairman of the prize, added: “We very much welcome this new long term sponsorship from Baillie Gifford, a firm whose partners care about books and culture as much we do and with which we believe we can develop a strong partnership.

“We now have the resources to expand our activities and aim to become the leading non-fiction book prize in the world.”


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