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Australian author Anna Funder longlisted for inaugural Women’s Prize for non-fiction

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Capitalism, artificial intelligence, Renaissance history and motherhood are among the topics explored in the books on the inaugural Women’s Prize for non-fiction longlist.

Wifedom by Australian author Anna Funder is among the 16 books in the running for the £30,000 prize, launched last year to redress the relatively low numbers of women recognised in nonfiction prizes.

The “ground-breaking” longlisted titles are “about redressing wrongs – so whether that’s exposing truth, or revealing hypocrisy or uncovering hidden stories – there’s a dedication to truth”, said chair of judges and historian Suzannah Lipscomb.

Wifedom explores the story of George Orwell’s forgotten wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, whose literary brilliance shaped Orwell’s work and practical nous saved his life.

But why – and how – was she written out of the story? Using newly discovered letters from Eileen to her best friend, Funder recreates the Orwells’ marriage, through the Spanish Civil War and WW II in London. As she rolls up the screen concealing Orwell’s private life she is led to question what it takes to be a writer – and what it is to be a wife.

Compelling and utterly original, Wifedom speaks to the unsung work of women everywhere today, while offering a breathtakingly intimate view of one of the most important literary marriages of the 20th century. It is a book that speaks to our present moment as much as it illuminates the past.

The shortlist will be announced on 27 March.

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