Amy Sackville hailed for “startling originality” as debut novel takes prize
Amy Sackville (2002, English Studies 1880-1960) was hailed as “a writer of seemingly limitless promise” on 23 November as her debut novel The Still Point took the John Llewellyn Rhys prize. The £5,000 prize is awarded for the best work of literature by a UK or Commonwealth writer aged 35 or under. Previous winners who have gone on to great things in the literary world have included V S Naipaul, Margaret Drabble and David Hare.
The chair of the judges, Claire Allfree, told guests at the award ceremony in Piccadilly that Sackville “took our breath away” with her use of language – and she praised the “ambitious, beautifully constructed” book, saying: “It has a huge imaginative scope. It tells its story in unexpected, subtle ways… She is a writer of seemingly limitless promise and, amid some tough competition, a thoroughly deserving winner.”
The Still Point tells of a young woman, Emily Mackley, whose husband disappears attempting to reach the north pole at the turn of the 20th century. For 60 years Emily stoically awaits Edward’s return, sacrificing her own dreams in the process – only to face the eventual discovery of his frozen corpse in the Arctic. The story is interwoven with that of Emily’s great grand-niece Julia, who inherits Emily’s home and is forced to reassess her own life as she explores the diary Edward wrote during his journey.