Winner of Wellcome Book Prize 2015: 'The Iceberg' by Marion Coutts


Congratulations to Marion Coutts for winning the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 for her book 'The Iceberg'!

After weeks of celebrating all six books on the incredible shortlist this year, Marion Coutts was tonight announced as the winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 for her book, The Iceberg: A Memoir. The announcement was made by acclaimed author and chair of judges, Bill Bryson, at a special ceremony held in Wellcome Collection’s new Reading Room.

The sixth winner of the prize, Marion will receive £30,000. The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books that engage with some aspect of medicine, health or illness, showcasing the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine through exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction.

The Iceberg is an exploration of the impact of death in real time, a sustained act of looking that only ends when life does. In 2008 the art critic Tom Lubbock was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The tumour was located in the area controlling speech and language, and would eventually rob him of the ability to speak. He died early in 2011. Marion Coutts was his wife.

In short bursts of beautiful, textured prose, Coutts describes the eighteen months leading up to her partner's death. The book – an account of a family unit, man, woman, young child, under assault, and how the three of them fought to keep it intact – has so far been shortlisted for Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the Costa Biography Award, and the Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize.

Our chair of judges Bill Bryson says of the book: “From an extremely strong shortlist of books that blend exquisite writing with scientific rigour and personal experience, The Iceberg stood out. Marion Coutts’ account of living with her husband’s illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed. Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world – it stays with you for a long time after.

Marion Coutts is an artist and writer. She wrote the introduction to Tom Lubbock's memoir Until Further Notice, I am Alive, published by Granta in 2012. She is a Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and lives in London with her son.