The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction is delighted to announce that the 2022 winner is Katherine Rundell and her book, Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne!
Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne was chosen by this year’s judging panel: writer and Associate Editor of The Bookseller, Caroline Sanderson (chair); writer and science journalist, Laura Spinney; critic and writer for The Observer, Rachel Cooke; BBC journalist and presenter, Clive Myrie; author and New Yorker writer, Samanth Subramanian; and critic and broadcaster, Georgina Godwin. Their selection was made from 362 books published between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022.
Caroline Sanderson, chair of judges, says: “Super-Infinite, Katherine Rundell’s glorious celebration of the life and work of the poet John Donne is our unanimous winner of the 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Exquisitely rendered, its passion, playfulness, and sparkling prose seduced all of us. Rundell makes an irresistible case for Donne’s work to be widely read 400 years later, for all the electric joy and love it expresses. And in so doing, she gives us a myriad reasons why poetry – why the arts – matter.”
In a recent interview with prize director Toby Mundy on Read Smart, the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction’s podcast, Rundell credits John Donne as “the finest writer of desire and sex and love and passion in the English language ever […] a burning original”. To Rundell, Donne offers us “a kind of galvanic vision of language as a set of possibilities that can be bent to express the unique and unwieldy quality of each human mind”.
Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne gives readers a window into the little-known myriad of lives that poet John Donne lived. Sometimes a religious outsider and a social disaster and sometimes a celebrity preacher and establishment darling, John Donne was incapable of being just one thing. He was a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, an MP, a priest, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral – and perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language.
Don’t miss the latest Read Smart podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Soundcloud. An episode devoted to Rundell – hosted by Razia Iqbal – be available on Thursday 24 November across all of The Baillie Gifford Prize’s streaming platforms.
Rundell will be interviewed at the Cambridge Literary Festival on Sunday 20 November 2022. Buy tickets here