The Wellcome Trust Book Prize

Celebrating medicine in literature

The Wellcome Trust has just announced the first ever shortlist for its new literary prize, celebrating "medicine in literature". Jo Brand will chair the panel of judges, which includes the doctor-turned-polymath Raymond Tallis and the BBC science journalist Quentin Cooper. The shortlist is as follows:

Havi Carel, Illness

Brian Dillon, Tormented Hope (read John O'Connell's review in this week's magazine)

Andrea Gillies, Keeper

Allegra Goodman, Intuition

Jonny Steinberg, Three Letter Plague

Abraham Verghese, Cutting For Stone

The winner of the £25,000 prize will be announced on 4 November.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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Poem: "When the Americans came"

“Do you have vampires around here?”

When the Americans came,

they didn’t take to our gardens:

the apple orchard smelling of wild garlic,

foxgloves growing among the runner beans.


“Do you have vampires around here?”

a visitor from Carolina asked me.

It was a shambles, Wilfred knew that,

nodding wisely as though apologising


for the ill manners of King George,

the clematis purple in the thatched roofing.

But come the softe sonne,

there are oxlips in Fry’s woods,


forget-me-nots in the shallow stream,

lettuce and spring onions for a salad.

It’s certain that fine women eat

A crazy salad with their meat*


I tried to tell them. But they weren’t women,

and didn’t care to listen to a boy.

They preferred the red rosehips

we used for making wine.


Danced outside the village church

round the maypole Jack Parnham made.

Now they’re gone,

the wild garlic has returned.


* W B Yeats, “A Prayer for My Daughter”


William Bedford is a novelist, children’s author and poet. His eighth collection of verse, The Bread Horse, is published by Red Squirrel Press.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood