Biographer Sir Michael Holroyd has won this year’s Sheridan Morley Prize for his book A Strange Eventful History.
The Sheridan Morley Prize for Best Theatre Biography, named after the critic and biographer who died in 2007, was created last year to celebrate excellence and originality in a theatre biography, autobiography or diary.
Holroyd’s A Strange Eventful History is a portrait of two theatrical dynasties, charting the lives of the famous Victorian-era actor-managers Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, looking at their remarkable families and the world of Victorian theatre.
This year’s prize, announced at the Garrick Club this morning, was judged by Morley’s widow, the critic and biographer Ruth Leon, along with actress Patricia Hodge, publisher Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson and Shakespeare’s Globe Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, who won the inaugural prize last year for his book Will And Me.
In winning the £2,000 prize, Holroyd fought off competition from Judith Mackrell’s portrait of ballerina Lydia Lopokova, entitled Bloomsbury Ballerina, Peter Gill’s Apprenticeship, a recollection of his journey from young actor to director and playwright, and Christopher Bigsby’s biography of American playwright Arthur Miller.
Holroyd’s previous works include biographies of Lytton Strachey, Augustus John and George Bernard Shaw.