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Stalin's Daughter Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction winner 2015

Hon. Hilary M. Weston and the Writers’ Trust Present $60,000 Literary Award to Rosemary Sullivan for Expansive Biography of Stalin’s Daughter

October 6, 2015Toronto – The Writers’ Trust of Canada announced tonight that Rosemary Sullivan has won the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, published by HarperCollins Canada. The prize is the richest annual literary award for a book of nonfiction published in Canada.

The prize was awarded by the Hon. Hilary M. Weston in Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario at a salon-style gathering of more than 200 members of the literary, philanthropic, and arts communities. Renowned Canadian performers enlivened the evening with dramatic readings of the nominated titles. The event was hosted by Shelagh Rogers, broadcast journalist and host of CBC Radio One’s The Next Chapter. In addition to the $60,000 prize, Sullivan received a sculpture created by crystal artist Mark Raynes Roberts.

Prize finalists were selected by a jury composed of author and journalist Stevie Cameron, novelist and nonfiction writer Will Ferguson, and writer and broadcaster JJ Lee, who was a finalist for this prize in 2012. Their citation reads:

Compelling figures are essential in a great biography. They need not be famous or historically significant but they do require an author to bring to life their passions, ideas, feats, and failures. Rosemary Sullivan achieves all of it with an insightful yet empathetic portrait of Svetlana Alliluyeva. Stalin’s Daughter expansively intertwines history, political intrigue, espionage, and domestic drama, yet Sullivan hones the episodes to one struggle: Alliluyeva’s attempt to escape her father’s shadow. When the “Soviet Princess” died, she was treated in the media more like a post-Cold War curiosity. Sullivan’s book delivers a fully wrought literary heroine.

Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan, 2015 HIlary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction winnerRosemary Sullivan has written poetry, short fiction, biography, and literary criticism. Her recent books include Villa Air-Bel and Labyrinth of Desire. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and a recipient of the Lorne Pierce Medal, awarded by the Royal Society of Canada for her contribution to literature and culture. An Officer of the Order of Canada, Sullivan lives in Toronto.

Four finalists for this year’s prize received $5,000 each:

Eliott Behar Tell It to the World: International Justice and the Secret Campaign to Hide Mass Murder in Kosovo Dundurn Press
Eliott Behar
 for Tell It to the World: International Justice and the Secret Campaign to Hide Mass Murder in Kosovo (Dundurn Press)

Douglas Coupland Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent  Random House Canada
Douglas Coupland
 for Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent (Random House Canada)

Dean Jobb Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia – The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation  Harper Avenue
Dean Jobb
 for Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia – The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated a Nation (Harper Avenue)

Lynette Loeppky Cease: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Desire  Oolichan Books
Lynette Loeppky
 for Cease: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Desire (Oolichan Books)

Nico BranhamAlso honoured at the event was 18-year-old Nico Branham from Vancouver, whose essay “Outside the Window, a Billion Stars Are Moving Past Me at the Speed of Light” was named winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Student Nonfiction Writing Contest earlier this year. Read her first place story.

“Each of this year’s finalist books presents compelling subjects, persuasive arguments, and gripping prose that have captivated our jury,” said the Hon. Hilary M. Weston. “It is an honour to celebrate the work of Canada’s finest writers of true stories through the annual awarding of this prize, and to help that exemplary work to find new readers in Canada and beyond.”

The nominated works are available on iBooks for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac at

Support for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize is provided by media partner CBC Books. Additional support is provided by Indigo Chapters.

About The Hon. Hilary M. Weston, CM, OOnt

Hilary M. Weston Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonficiton Student Nonfiction Writing Contest

The Hon. Hilary M. Weston served as the 26th lieutenant-governor of Ontario from 1997 to 2002. As the Queen’s representative in Ontario, Mrs. Weston was responsible for the Crown’s constitutional and representational roles in the province. Since leaving public office, Mrs. Weston has continued to pursue her diverse interests. She led Renaissance ROM, the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian cultural history, transforming the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She is a trustee of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and serves on the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mrs. Weston is also a corporate director of Wittington Investments and Selfridges Group Ltd. She has also served as deputy chair of the board of Holt Renfrew, promoting Canadian designers in the retailing business.

Mrs. Weston founded the Ireland Fund of Canada and remains a patron of this non-denominational organization promoting peace in Ireland. Her interests in homes and gardens resulted in the publication of In a Canadian Garden (1989) and At Home in Canada (1995). She served as first chancellor of the Order of Ontario, was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2003, and is the recipient of six honorary degrees.

About the Prize

The prize is awarded for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction, which includes, among other forms, personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoirs, commentary, and criticism, both social and political. Finalist works will, in the opinion of the jury, demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. This award succeeds the Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize, which was established in 1997.

About the Writers’ Trust

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including ten national literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country.


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