The 2024 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Longlist is announced, alongside timely news of a change of management to The Abbotsford Trust.

The twelve novels in contention for the £25,000 prize are:

The New Life by Tom Crewe

A Better Place by Stephen Daisley

Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein

Cuddy by Benjamin Myers 

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie

My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor

Mister Timeless Blyth by Alan Spence

In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas

Absolutely and Forever by Rose Tremain

Music in the Dark by Sally Magnusson

The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng

The Fraud by Zadie Smith

The 2024 judging panel comprised Katie Grant, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark and Saira Shah. Longlisted authors this year encompass a range of nationalities including Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, Malaysian and Trinidadian.

The Chair of Judges, Katie Grant, said:

“This year’s longlist sweeps us from one end of the world to the other, and from the Dark Ages to the twentieth century – almost a millennium-and-a-half. Along the way we hear tales of fifteenth- century Norwich and of the Highland Clearances of the 1800s; of the secret railroad through the Americas during the mid-nineteenth century and of forbidden love in London at the turn of the twentieth; from tropical Jamaica to Japan and Korea in the late 1800s, and to sultry Penang as the twentieth century dawns; onwards to Trinidad, to Rome, to Crete and to New Zealand during the Second World War years; and to London and Paris in the swinging 1960s when anything seems possible.

‘From the epic to the intimate, from the philosophical to the swashbuckling, from the traditional to the experimental, in each book emotions run deep. If you read the whole list, just like the panel of judges, you’ll never be short of conversation.”

This year also sees the Prize moving to what might be considered its natural spiritual home, Abbotsford.  From February 2024 the Prize will be managed by The Abbotsford Trust, the independent charity responsible for Sir Walter Scott’s extraordinary Borders home.  

The Duke of Buccleuch, founder of the Walter Scott Prize and Patron of The Abbotsford Trust said:

"For some time it was the dream of my late wife and myself that the Walter Scott Prize should take root in the great writer’s own home and creation at Abbotsford.  Now that the Prize, 15 years on, is firmly established in the literary calendar I am utterly delighted that this is being realised and am deeply grateful to the Abbotsford Trustees for taking over the baton and to Hawthornden Foundation for making it possible.”

The Chief Executive of The Abbotsford Trust, Giles Ingram, said:

“Walter Scott, founding father of the historical novel, understood that our present is shaped by the tales we tell of our past. By setting characters in a historical context, he humanised the past and helped us reflect on what once divided society. Individually and collectively, we need this wisdom and perspective no less today, possibly more so. Which is why we are delighted to be welcoming the Walter Scott Prize home to Abbotsford. I like to think that Walter would be cock-a-hoop, and with this year’s longlist announced from his home, we have such ample proof that the genre is alive and thriving."

A shortlist will be announced in May, and the winner announcement and prizegiving event will take place as before at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, in June.