Scots writer lands top prize at Borders Book Festival

The coveted Walter Scott prize for historical fiction, presented annually at the Borders Book Festival, went to Perthshire poet-turned-novellist Robin Robertson.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 5:08 pm
The Tenth Walter Scott Prize goes to Scottish poet Robin Robertson for his book The Long Take. The prize winner was announced at the the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival. A four-day extravaganza of live events in the Scottish Borders featuring top writers, stars of stage and screen, sporting heroes and political pundits. Credit: Alex Hewitt/Writer Pictures

The 64-year-old has become the first Scot to land the coveted prize, established 10 years ago by the Duke of Buccleuch to reward the best fiction set 60 or more years ago and published in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth.

His novel ‘The Long Take’ is a combination of verse and prose, echoing the format often used by Sir Walter Scott in his long historical narrative poems.

Accepting the £25,000 prize from writer Alexander McCall Smith and the sponsor the Duke of Buccleuch at the book festival on Saturday, Mr Robertson said that, like Walter Scott, he had started as a poet and then moved into narrative fiction ‘by accident’, as The Long Take started as a poem, but became something longer.

Award-winning actor Jack Lowden read extracts from all six short-listed novels – A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey, After The Party by Cressida Connolly, The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey, Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller, Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, and Robin Robertson’s The Long Take.

The judging panel for the 2019 prize comprised Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark, Katharine Grant, Elizabeth Laird, James Holloway and festival director Alistair Moffat.