Thursday, 8 November 2012

Literary Review Grand Poetry Prize and Tatler's Little Black Book Party

It's traditionally a sunny day on the day of the Literary Review Grand Poetry Prize (God must like books), and yesterday was no different, as hordes of ravening literary beasts descended upon Fitzroy Square for the annual luncheon.  (What's the collective word for authors? A ream? A rambling? Suggestions on a postcard please.)

Actress Samantha Bond (yup, Miss Moneypenny) sweetly read out the winning entry as authors looked on and ate the most delicious guinea fowl. I was delighted to meet my critical heroine Katherine Duncan-Jones, the august Shakespeare scholar, and to talk about family histories with Gillian Tindall. Tom Holland, the author of The Shadow of the Sword, a book about how the Koran was constructed, was there, without any bodyguards; Sarah Bradford, the royal biographer, in a red hat; explorer Sara Wheeler and many others. Alexander Waugh tickled the piano (and the guests), and gave a speech in which he remembered the 22 years of the prize. Founded by Auberon Waugh to encourage poems that rhymed, scanned and made sense - "it's had a profound effect across the world, even in China they're writing poems that rhyme and scan", the award was first given away by Alec Guinness but nobody recognised him, so they found someone more famous to do it the next year - Diana, Princess of Wales. He also recalled Peter Cook making a speech about (I think) a platinum bee.

It was a marginally different scene later in the evening at Tatler's Little Black Book party - although biographer Anne Somerset was in attendance, and memoirist Liza Campbell, though not there, is on the list. The photographers, however, were mostly interested in .... Nancy Dell'Olio, although maybe she was there by accident.

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