CJ Sansom has been announced as the recipient of the highest honour in British crime writing, the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Diamond Dagger.
One of Britain’s bestselling historical novelists, Christopher John Sansom was born in 1952 in Edinburgh. He was educated at Birmingham University with a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer.
He combined both history and law in his debut novel Dissolution – a darkly fascinating novel of monastic murder and politics.
CJ Sansom says: ‘I feel so honoured to be awarded this year’s Diamond Dagger, and my heartfelt thanks to the CWA members and committee. Wonderful to think I now join such a distinguished group of authors. To think it all started with the idea that a novel set around Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries might make a good story. Thank you.’
Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the CWA, said: ‘C J Sansom has proven himself to be the modern master of the historical thriller, regardless of periods. Equally at ease evoking sixteenth century England, Spain in the aftermath of its Civil War or even an alternate post-WW2 Britain, he weaves a web of compelling reality around his characters and brings the past to life like no other, making him a splendid and deserved addition to the prestigious ranks of Diamond Dagger winners.’
Published in 2003, Dissolution was an immediate bestseller, and critical success. Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter called it ‘extraordinarily impressive’, while PD James described it as ‘remarkable’.
This success sparked the bestselling Shardlake series, set in the reign of Henry VIII and following the sixteenth-century lawyer-detective Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak.
Now running to well over four million copies in print, it is one of the most successful crime series of all time.
After Dissolution came Dark Fire, which won the 2005 Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger.
He has also written a thriller, Winter in Madrid, set in Spain in 1940 in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
The CWA Diamond Dagger is selected from nominations provided by CWA members. The award recognises authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre.
CJ Sansom joins icons of the genre who have been recognised with the accolade, including Ruth Rendell, Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Ian Rankin, PD James, Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, Lindsey Davis, Peter Lovesey, John Le Carré and Martina Cole.
One of the UK’s most prominent societies, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark. The CWA Daggers are now regarded by the publishing world as the foremost British awards for crime-writing. As the oldest awards in the genre, they have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.
The Diamond Dagger is announced before the annual CWA Dagger Awards, dubbed the ‘Oscars of the crime genre’, due to be awarded this June.
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