The Judges


The Judges for this year’s Desmond Elliott Prize are:

  • IAIN PEARS (Chair) – Author of An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Dream of Scipio and Stone’s Fall
  • SAM BAKER – Co-founder of The Pool
  • KATY GUEST – Writer and journalist. Former Literary Editor of The Independent on Sunday

Iain Pears is the latest acclaimed novelist to act as Chair of Judges for the Prize, following Louise Doughty in 2015 and Chris Cleave in 2014. His own debut novel was The Raphael Affair (1991), the first in a series of mysteries set in the world of art history. Among his other novels are the bestselling An Instance of the Fingerpost (1997), and last year’s Arcadia, a novel that came with its own accompanying interactive app.

Pears said: “Everyone has to start somewhere, and getting under way as an author is harder now than ever before. There are fewer reviews, fewer friendly bookshops, fewer publishers who can afford to nurture their young writers for long. Prizes like the Desmond Elliott help to make up for this by giving encouragement not just to the winner, but to those who are considered, and those who have something to aim for when their book comes out next year or the year after.  The Prize signals that publishing is not just about sales, but remains primarily about producing good books. It is a pleasure and a responsibility to be one of the judges, especially as I suspect there are going to be more worthy books to consider than prizes to award.”

Chairman of the Prize Trustees, Dallas Manderson, said: “It is with great pride that we announce our three judges for the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize. Desmond would thoroughly approve of our choices, all of whom are committed to supporting the best of everything that is good and exciting about our world of books. They now have the wonderful yet daunting task of choosing which author will join our fine list of winners.”

About the judges

Sam Baker has edited some of the UK’s biggest magazines. After successfully re-launching teenage magazine Just Seventeen as J-17, she edited Minx then spent five years as editor of Company. She was editor of Cosmopolitan UK and editor-in-chief of Red, and is co-founder of the ground-breaking digital platform for women, The Pool. Her latest novel, the psychological thriller, The Woman Who Ran, has just been published.

Katy Guest has been the literary editor of the Independent on Sunday for six years, during which time she has been a judge of Fiction Uncovered, Literary Death Match and the Political Book Awards, spoken at the inaugural Shoreditch House Literary Salon and interviewed authors including Louis de Bernieres, Judith Kerr and Will Young. Katy is a cheerleader for books in all forms and believes that reports of their imminent demise are an exaggeration.

Iain Pears was born in Coventry in 1955. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, he has worked as a journalist, an art historian and a television consultant. He is the author of An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Dream of Scipio and Stone’s Fall. He has also written several highly praised detective novels, a book of art history, and countless articles on artistic, financial and historical subjects. His latest book, Arcadia, has been adapted into an app for iPhone and iPad in conjunction with Touchpress.