WHSBOTY 2019 Winner Announcement
Duncan Hamilton becomes the first ever three time winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner with his biography of cricket writer Neville Cardus
- Duncan Hamilton and Donald McRae were both looking to win their third Sports Book of the Year award
- Judges were “bowled over” by Hamilton’s book, The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus.
The Great Romantic is Duncan Hamilton’s comprehensive biography of venerated cricket writer and music journalist, Neville Cardus.
The judges were bowled over by the quality of the writing and the way in which Hamilton brings to life the characters that defined cricket between the two world wars. The author explains that Neville Cardus was unknowable but this book does a very fine job indeed of guiding us through his career and motivations». Neville Cardus described how one majestic stroke-maker ‘made music’ and ‘spread beauty’ with his bat. Between two world wars, he became the laureate of cricket writing by doing the same with his words.
In The Great Romantic, Duncan Hamilton demonstrates how Cardus changed sports journalism for ever. Among those who venerated Cardus were PG Wodehouse, John Arlott, Harold Pinter, JB Priestley and Donald Bradman. However behind the rhapsody in blue skies, green grass and colourful characters, this richly evocative biography finds that Cardus’s mother was a sex worker, he never knew his father and he received negligible education. Infatuations with younger women ran parallel to a decidedly unromantic marriage.
And, astonishingly, this supreme stylist’s aversion to factual accuracy led to his reporting on a match he didn’t attend. Yet Cardus also belied his impoverished origins to prosper in another class-conscious profession, becoming a music critic of international renown.
In winning the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, The Great Romantic, becomes the sixth cricket book to win the award and the first to do so since Hamilton’s book Harold Larwood won in 2009. Previous winners of the prestigious award include Nick Hornby, Brian Moore, and Marcus Trescothick. Football is the most successful topic having won seven awards followed by cricket and boxing .
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