Mother Country shortlisted for the TLS Ackerley Prize

Jul 8, 2024

We are delighted to see that Monique Charlesworth’s Mother Country (Moth Books)
has been shortlisted for the TLS Ackerley Prize!

The Ackerley Prize was established in 1982 in memory of J. R. Ackerley (1896–1967), the author and long-time literary editor of The Listener magazine. It is awarded annually to a literary autobiography of outstanding merit, by an author of British nationality, and published in the UK in the previous year. It is now awarded in partnership with the Times Literary Supplement and has been renamed the TLS Ackerley Prize.

Monique Charlesworth’s Mother Country travels back and forth in time, and to many places – Nazi Germany, wartime Morocco and Brussels, post-war Birkenhead and present-day Paris – in an attempt to unravel the hidden past of the author’s secretive mother. It is, as the subtitle states, ‘A Story of Love and Lies’, in which Charlesworth patiently follows leads and unpicks a hugely complicated family history in order to come to an understanding of her relationship with her mother. Beautifully written and very skillfully structured, the book springs a number of carefully placed surprises on the reader. This is both a compelling detective story and an unusual and highly original book about the repercussions of the Holocaust.

Recent winners include Nancy Campbell, Frances Stonor Saunders Claire Wilcox and Alison Light, while among the past winners are Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn, John Osborne, Jenni Diski, Germaine Greer, Blake Morrison and Sonali Deraniyagala.

The Prize is judged by the biographer and historian Peter Parker (Chair), the biographer and critic Claire Harman, and the writer and editor Michael Caines.

The winner receives a cheque for £4,000.

The judges called in thirty-five autobiographies and memoirs published in 2023, and these were gradually whittled down to six possible contenders for the Prize. During a final meeting in June, we reduced this half dozen to a shortlist of three remarkable books that describe the difficulties of growing up, secrets within families, and finding one’s place in the world.

The winner of the Prize will be announced at a special event featuring the shortlisted authors in conversation with the chair of the judges, Peter Parker, at Reference Point, 2 Arundel Street, London WC2R 3DA on 25 July 2024 at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7pm.

Tickets, to include wine, are £5 each (£3 for students/unwaged) and must be booked in advance at: