RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction

In 2017, the RSL established these annual Awards for first-time writers of non-fiction through a generous bequest from author and RSL Fellow Giles St Aubyn. Giles St Aubyn, who died in 2015 aged 89, wrote 14 non-fiction books and taught history for nearly 40 years at Eton College. A nephew of Vita Sackville-West, he counted John Betjeman, John le Carré and The Queen Mother among his friends. Read the press release announcing the Awards.

The new awards build on the RSL Jerwood Awards. a previous form of non-fiction awards, generously supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation from 2004 to 2016.

The 2021 Awards

We are delighted to announce the winners of the RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for first commissioned works of non-fiction:

  • £10,000 –Tomiwa Owolade – This is Not America (Atlantic Books, 2022)
  • £5,000 – Tom Ireland – The Good Virus (Hodder & Stoughton, 2022)
  • £2,500 – David Veevers – A New History of the World at the Dawn of British Expansion (Penguin Random House/Ebury, 2022)

This year’s Awards were judged by Gwen Adshead, Fiona Boyle and Clive Myrie.

Videos of our three winners finding out that they’ve won and discussing their projects are available to watch on our YouTube channel, with animations courtesy of Josh Saunders.

More information can be found on the press release.

For questions about any of our awards and prizes, please contact Martha Stenhouse, General Manager, [email protected].

The 2020 Awards

We are delighted to announce the winners of the RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for first commissioned works of non-fiction:

  • £10,000 –Doreen Cunningham – Soundings: A Journey with Whales (Virago, 2022)
  • £5,000 – Alice Sherwood – The Authenticity Playbook (Harper Collins, 2022)
  • £2,500 – Danny Lavelle – Down and Out: A Journey Through Homelessness (Wildfire, 2022)

This year’s Awards were judged by Damian Le BasRamita Navai and Fiona St Aubyn.

We have commissioned three animated films to celebrate the 2020 winners. You can watch them on our YouTube Channel, with animations courtesy of Josh Saunders.

Read the press release for more information.


The 2019 Awards

  • £10,000Harry DaviesOperation Information (The Bodley Head, 2021)
  • £5,000Olive HeffernanThe High Seas: The Race to Save the Earth’s Last Wilderness (Profile Books, 2021)
  • Judges’ Special CommendationRebecca FoggBeautiful Trauma (Granta, 2022)

The 2019 judges were Fiona St Aubyn (Chair), Rachel Hewitt and Kenan Malik. Read the 2019 press release .



The 2018 Awards

  • £10,000 Laurence Blair – Lost Countries of South America: Travels in a Continent’s Past and Present (The Bodley Head, 2020)
  • £5,000 Lily Le Brun – Looking to Sea: Britain Through the Eyes of its Artists (Hodder and Stoughton, 2020)
  • Judges’ Special CommendationPaul CraddockDragon in a Suitcase: A Cultural History of the Art of Transplant (Fig Tree, 2020)

The 2018 judges were: Iain Sinclair (Chair), Laura Bates, Aida Edemariam and Fiona St AubynRead the 2018 press release .

The 2017 Awards

  • £10,000 – David FarrierFootprints: In Search of Future Fossils (4th Estate, 2019)
  • £5,000 – Lisa Woollett Scavenging (John Murray, 2019)
  • Judges’ Special CommendationJoanna Jolly Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine  (Virago, 2019).

The 2017 judges were Richard Holmes (Chair), Afua Hirsch and Fiona St AubynRead the 2017 press release.