Author Katherine Rundell received the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction for her modern biography documenting the many facets of poet, scholar and priest John Donne.
Rundell, who is a fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, took 10 years and three drafts to write Super-Infinite: The Transformations Of John Donne, which received the Literary Prize on Thursday.
The British writer wins the £50,000 prize, with the chair of the jury and deputy editor of The Bookseller, Caroline Sanderson, describing the book as “exquisitely rendered”.
She continued, “It was the passion, the playfulness and the bubbly prose that won us all over. Rundell makes a compelling case for Donne’s work to be widely read 400 years later, for all the electric joy and love it expresses.
“And in doing so, she gives us a myriad of reasons why poetry – why the arts – matter.”
Rundell’s biography provides insight into the myriad of lives Donne lived, as a legal scholar, MP, priest, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral and poet.
The jury that selected the winner included BBC broadcaster Clive Myrie, writer and science journalist Laura Spinney, New York author and writer Samanth Subramanian and critic and host Georgina Godwin.
Their selection was made from 362 books published between November 1, 2021 and October 31 this year.
Other titles shortlisted for the award include Caroline Elkins’ Legacy Of Violence: A History Of The British Empire, Polly Morland’s A Fortunate Woman: A Country Doctor’s Story and My Fourth Time, We Drowned: Seeking Refuge On The World’s Deadliest Migration Route from Sally. Hayden.
Rundell, who wrote her doctoral thesis on Donne, was crowned the winner at the ceremony held at the Science Museum on Thursday evening.
The prize, which was first awarded in 1999 to Antony Beevor for Stalingrad, was open to books in the fields of current affairs, history, politics, science, sports, travel, of biography, autobiography and the arts.
Last year’s winner Patrick Radden Keefe’s book, Empire Of Pain: The Secret History Of The Sackler Dynasty, became a Sunday Times bestseller.