Rupert Everett has won this year’s Sheridan Morley prize for his second autobiography, Vanished Years.
The memoir, which takes its title from Noël Coward’s last poem, picks up the actor’s story in the last decade with a generous helping of Proustian flashbacks en route. It’s Everett’s second memoir, following his 2006 publication Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, which detailed his rise to fame after starring in the film of Julian Mitchell’s boarding school-set drama Another Country, at 25.
Everett, currently starring as Oscar Wilde in the West End production of David Hare’s The Judas Kiss, has described the latest instalment “a middle-aged book” on account of its romantic nostalgia.
Published in September, Vanished Years was widely and lavishly praised in reviews, with the Guardian critic Talitha Stevenson describing it as “a tragical comical, ironical Broadway-hit-show of a life”. Everett accepted the award at a ceremony at the Garrick Club in London.
The Sheridan Morley prize is given annually to a theatre-related book with a biographical bent. Previous winners include artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Dominic Dromgoole, actor Simon Callow and, last year, Stephen Sondheim. It commemorates the late theatre critic Sheridan Morley and is presented by his wife Ruth Leon, also a critic, in conjunction with the Garrick Club.
This year’s shortlist contained a number of high-profile books: Kate Bassett’s biography of Jonathan Miller, In Two Minds; Michael Pennington’s personal reflection on Shakespeare, Sweet William; and Simon Callow’s Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World. Playwright Arthur Laurents and writer Sue Prideaux completed the finalists.
The judges – Mark Shenton, Isla Blair and Braham Murray – said that Everett’s book was “surprising, hilarious and wise”.
Their statement continued: “It has been an extraordinary year for theatre biographies, but even in a very strong field, Rupert Everett’s Vanished Years was a clear winner. It’s just plain fun to read, and is a firsthand account of the everyday life of a working and highly successful actor from the inside.”
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