Winner announced for Wellcome Book Prize 2019


Will Eaves wins 10th anniversary Wellcome Book Prize for Alan Turing inspired novel Murmur

Will Eaves wins Wellcome Book Prize 2019
Will Eaves, winner of Wellcome Book Prize 2019. Photo by David Bishop/Wellcome Collection

British author Will Eaves has been awarded the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize for his astonishing novel Murmur, inspired by the life and legacy of Alan Turing.

Chair of Judges, Elif Shafak, made the announcement at the award ceremony at Wellcome Collection, London, praising Eaves’ “exquisite craft” in writing a novel of such power it “restores our faith in human beings, and their endless capacity for resilience.”

Eaves (51, London) was selected from a shortlist of six to win the prestigious £30,000 prize, which celebrates exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction that illuminate the many ways that health and medicine touch our lives.

Taking its cue from the arrest and legally-enforced chemical castration of Turing, Eaves fictionalises the devastating period before the mathematician’s death in an extraordinary contemplation of consciousness. Through Alec Pryor – the book’s avatar for Turing – Eaves seamlessly fuses art and science to create a feverish meditation on love, state-sanctioned homophobia and knowledge, alongside an exploration of sexuality, identity and artificial intelligence.

Originally a short story, Murmur is Eaves’ fifth novel and is published by CB Editions, an independent small press run solely by Charles Boyle that releases only a handful of books each year. After being shortlisted for the 2017 BBC National Short Story Award, the novel was nominated for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize, 2019 James Tait Black Prize and 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize, and awarded the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019.

The other titles shortlisted for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize were: Amateur: A reckoning with gender, identity and masculinity by Thomas Page McBee, Heart: A history by Sandeep Jauhar, Mind on Fire: A memoir of madness and recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in death, decay and disaster by Sarah Krasnostein.