Lindsey Davis wins the final CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger
Monday May 16: The Diamond Dagger, awarded for sustained excellence in crime writing, was presented to bestselling historical author Lindsey Davis during a glittering champagne reception at the newly-reopened Savoy Hotel, London. Davis is the creator of the well-loved ancient Roman private eye Marcus Didius Falco, and widely recognised as the godmother of the historical crime genre.
In his speech, the Executive Chairman of Cartier UK Arnaud Bamberger saluted Lindsey’s long career as a ‘super sleuth’. Accepting the award, Lindsey Davis spoke variously in Latin, French and English, dedicating the Dagger to her late partner Richard, and describing how twenty years with her fictional character Falco had actually changed her own personality. She added: ‘This really will be the best night of my career. I will treasure this award not only because it was nominated by colleagues, but because it represents so much friendship from our special sponsors at Cartier.’
At the same ceremony, Arnaud Bamberger of Cartier UK announced that this would be the final presentation of the award that Cartier would sponsor. The decision marks the conclusion of one of the most longstanding literary prize sponsorships, and coincides with M Bamberger ending his 18-year tenure as Managing Director of Cartier UK. He remains with the company as Executive Chairman.
The award, a silver book with a diamond-encrusted Dagger plunged into pages engraved with the winners’ names, has long been recognised as the highest accolade a crime writer can earn. Past winners include PD James, Ruth Rendell, John le Carré and Ian Rankin.
CWA Chair Peter James said: ‘The CWA owes an enormous debt to Cartier for their long support of this unique award. Although we’re sad to say goodbye to them, it opens up a great opportunity for a new sponsor at a time when the CWA has very exciting plans for expansion.’
The Diamond Dagger is the latest award for the Lindsey. The Silver Pigs won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel award in 1989, she won the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library and Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, while Falco has won the Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective.
She has been Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and Honorary President of the Classical Association. In 2009 the city of Zaragoza awarded her its International Prize for a career of writing historical novels, the Premio de Honor de Novela Histo rica Ciudad de Zaragoza.
The recipient of the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award is chosen by the members and committee of the CWA and is very much an honour awarded by the author’s peers and this makes it special.
The photograph shows left-to-right: M Arnaud Bamberger, Executive Chairman of Cartier UK, Tom Harper, outgoing chair of the CWA, Lindsey Davis, and François Le Troquer, Managing Director of Cartier UK.
A series of classics
Lindsey Davis was born and brought up in Birmingham, read English at Oxford, then joined the civil service, which she left in 1985. Her first published fiction was romantic serials in Woman’s Realm.
She started writing about the Romans with The Course of Honour, the remarkable true love story of the Emperor Vespasian and his mistress Antonia Caenis. Her research into First Century Rome inspired The Silver Pigs, the first outing for Falco and Helena, which was published in 1989. Starting as a spoof using a Roman ‘informer’ as a classic, metropolitan private eye, the series has developed into a set of adventures in various styles which take place throughout the Roman world.
2009 saw the publication of Rebels and Traitors, set in the English Civil War and Commonwealth. Nemesis, the 20th Falco novel, and Falco: The Official Companion were published in June 2010.
Her books are published in the UK and US, and translated into many other languages. Audio readings and Large Print versions are made. BBC Radio 4 has produced successful drama serials of the early books, dramatised by Mary Cutler and starring Anton Lesser as Falco and Anna Madeley as Helena.
Lindsey Davis’s website is at www.lindseydavis.co.uk.
The Cartier Diamond Dagger
As the name suggests, this coveted award is sponsored by Cartier, who have done so since its inception in 1986, through to the 2011 award.
The CWA committee selects writers nominated by the membership. Nominees have to meet two essential criteria: first, their careers must be marked by sustained excellence, and second, they must have made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation. The award is made purely on merit without reference to age, gender or nationality.
Earlier winners are listed above right: the names are linked to the appropriate page on this web site.