2023 WINNER

Julian Jackson

JULIAN JACKSON

France on Trial: The Case of Marshal Pétain

4th March 2024: The Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize for the best non-fiction published in the UK is awarded to Julian Jackson for France on Trial: The Case of Marshal Pétain (Allen Lane).

The book, described by the judges as “asking profound, historical questions about how to act in impossible circumstances”, uses the 1945 trial of Marshal Pétain to explore collusion and its consequences in post-war France. The guilty verdict may have been a foregone conclusion, but the case was never about one man alone: every level of French officialdom, particularly the deeply compromised justice system, had terrible questions to ask and to answer.

Oxford Literary Festival

Inside the Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize for Non-fiction
Julian Jackson and Artemis Cooper chaired by Miles Young

Wednesday, 20 March 2024
12:00pm
1 hour
Bodleian: Divinity School

The Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize celebrates the best in non-fiction writing.

The first award was made in 1956 in honour of the statesman and writer Alfred Duff Cooper (1890 – 1954) : it has been given annually ever since.

The Prize honours excellence in the genres enjoyed by its namesake, including history, biography, travel and nature writing, politics, poetry and literary criticism.

The winner receives £5,000, a magnum of Pol Roger Champagne and a copy of Duff’s memoirs: Old Men Forget

HAIL FRIEND AND READ

Part of the Latin inscription on the frieze of the Duff Cooper Library in the British Embassy, Paris. The full text, by André de Staerke and Patrick Leigh Fermor in 1958, translates as ‘Duff Cooper, fortunate Ambassador to France, dedicated this place to the silent friendship of books so that readers might be numbered among his friends. Hail, friend, and read’.

The Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize celebrates the best in non-fiction writing.

The first award was made in 1956, in honour of the statesman and writer Alfred Duff Cooper, and it has been given annually ever since.

The Prize honours excellence in the genres relished by its namesake, including history, biography, travel writing, politics, poetry and literary criticism.

Hail friend and read

Part of the Latin inscription on the frieze of the Duff Cooper Library in the British Embassy, Paris. The full text, composed by André de Staerke and Patrick Leigh Fermor in 1958, translates as ‘Duff Cooper, fortunate Ambassador to France, dedicated this place to the silent friendship of books so that readers might be numbered among his friends. Hail, friend, and read’.

Alfred Duff Cooper (1890 – 1954) statesman, diplomat and author, won the DSO as a second lieutenant in the First World War, and entered Parliament in 1923.

His life was devoted to politics until 1938 when, as First Lord of the Admiralty, he resigned in protest at the Munich Agreement.

Called back to office by Churchill in 1940, his wartime career culminated in his appointment as Ambassador to France.

Among his best-known books are Talleyrand, Operation Heartbreak and his autobiography, Old Men Forget.

Wine has lit up for me the pages of literature, and revealed in life romance lurking in the commonplace.

DUFF COOPER

Old Men Forget

OUR HOME

OUR SPONSOR

NEW COLLEGE, OXFORD

New College is the home of the Duff Cooper Memorial Fund, the charity responsible for the Prize. Duff Cooper read History at the college in 1908, and benefited from its culture of tolerance, its remarkable library and the wide learning of its tutors.

The Warden of New College is among the Prize’s five judges.

POL ROGER

The Prize is generously supported by Pol Roger, which supplies the Champagne for the annual awards ceremony and contributes towards the £5,000 prize money. The Pol Roger connection dates back to 11 November 1944, when, as Ambassador to newly liberated France, Duff Cooper served the 1928 vintage at an Armistice dinner for Churchill and de Gaulle. A year later, Duff introduced Churchill and Odette Pol Roger, who became lifelong friends.