Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize

Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize
5 March 2003

The Linen Hall Library announced that it had won the Christopherr Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize for the Troubled Images CD-ROM:

The 17th Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize was presented tonight to Belfast’s Linen Hall Library at a reception in the Irish Embassy in London. Lord Gowrie made the presentation to John Gray, Librarian of the Linen Hall, and Yvonne Murphy, Librarian of its Northern Ireland Political Collection, for the CD-ROM Troubled Images: Posters and Images of the Northern Ireland Conflict. Published in October 2001, the CD-ROM contains nearly three and a half thousand images drawn from the Library’s unique Political Collection. The CD-ROM is part of a larger project that includes a book and a large scale travelling exhibition.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Professor Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford, said:

“This year we short-listed a more varied range of material than ever: history, sociology, drama, and current affairs. But in a sense the Linen Hall Library’s Troubled Images project sums up all of these genres and more. During its long history, the Library has been a beacon of light, learning and impartial inquiry in the Belfast landscape. It has also been farsighted in sourcing, gathering and explaining ephemera about the Troubles from an early stage. Troubled Images brings a comprehensive range of these to a worldwide audience, maximising their sheer visual impact through modern information technology. The images may not necessarily be cheering, but they carry a high voltage chage, focussing the mind, and forcing us to make connections. Like the Library as a whole, this enterprise illuminates the complex web of attitudes and allegiances governing Northern Ireland’s cultural and political inheritance. There could be no more worthy recipient of a prize promoting peace through understanding.”

John Gray, speaking on behalf of the Library, said:

“The Library is honoured indeed to receive the Ewart-Biggs Prize. Jane Ewart-Biggs remains one of the shining examples of those who suffered from “the Troubles” and yet responded by seeking to facilitate greater understanding. That is also the business of the Linen Hall Library. Too often the first casualty of war has been truth. In our work in assembling the unique Northern Ireland Political Collection, and now with Troubled Images, we have sought to open up enabling space in this most difficult of terrain. As Troubled Images departs for a North American and subsequent international tour, it is an approach that may have a wider resonance in a deeply troubled world. We set sail heartened by this award.”

Librarian of the Northern Ireland Political Collection, and Troubled Images Project Director, Yvonne Murphy, paid tribute to the Troubled Images team:

“We are delighted to have received such an accolade. It is a testimony to the dedication, professionalism and expertise of the team who worked so hard on the project. Furthermore, the assistance of key poster makers and the agreement of all parties to permit the Library to use their material were crucial to the success of the project.”

The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize, worth £5,000, was instituted by the late Jane Ewart-Biggs in memory of her husband, the British Ambassador to Ireland, who was murdered by the IRA in 1976. Its objectives are to promote peace and reconciliation in Ireland, a greater understanding between the peoples of Britain and Ireland, or closer co-operation between partners of the European Community. The judges are Professor Paul Arthur, Professor of Politics at the University of Ulster; Professor Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford; Dr Maurice Hayes, Chairman of the Ireland Funds; Marigold Johnson, Patron of the British-Irish Association; and Thomas Pakenham, writer and historian. The other short-listed entries were Garret Fitzgerald, Reflections on the Irish State (Irish Academic Press); Carlo Gebler, Ten Rounds: An Adaption of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde (Lagan Press); Kieran McEvoy, Paramilitary Imprisonment in Northern Ireland: Resistance, Management and Release (Oxford University Press); A.T.Q. Stewart, The Shape of Irish History (Blackstaff Press); and Maurice Tanner, Ireland’s Unholy Wars: The Struggle for a Nation’s Soul, 1500-2000 (Yale University Press).

In November 2002, the CD-ROM took second place in the Nielson Bookdata/Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Awards for outstanding works of reference in the United Kingdom.