On 16 November, at a glittering ceremony at the Royal Institute of British Architects, Four Colman Getty revealed the winner of the 2017 Baillie Gifford Prize, the UK’s top award for non-fiction writing. This is the second year the prize has been sponsored by the Edinburgh-based asset management firm, who also support literary festivals around the country.
From a shortlist of six titles, which covered topics from Jewish history and the classics to the nature of borders and an exploration of transhumanism, US writer and Oscar nominee David France emerged the victor for his chronicle of AIDS activism in the 80s and 90s, How to Survive a Plague.
It was an emotional evening, not just for David but also for Stuart Proffitt, who co-founded the prize with Four Colman Getty's Chief Executive Dotti Irving and now hands over the reins to Sir Peter Bazalgette, who headed up this year’s judging panel and now takes on the role of chair.
The announcement was livestreamed on Facebook and a video featuring the judges was used to reveal the 2017 longlist, shortlist and winner, in addition to undertaking a successful social media advertising campaign in the UK and US for the first time. You can watch the announcement video here, which received more than 40k views in total.
After an extraordinary evening it was an early start for David the next morning, who began the day on BBC Radio 4 Today, before an interview with The Guardian at the Four offices and an afternoon spent back at New Broadcasting House for an appearance on the BBC News channel and a piece on BBC World Service Weekend. David has since penned a very moving diary piece on the experience for New Statesman, which you can read here.