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Art of Freedom by Bernadette McDonald wins the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature

Tuesday, 21st November 2017

Bernadette McDonald accepting the Boardman Tasker Award. Photo: Henry Iddon, Kendal Mountain Festival Arts and Culture Officer.

Art of Freedom, Bernadette McDonald’s biography of the enigmatic Polish mountaineer Voytek Kurtyka, has won the 2017 Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature.

McDonald’s book was announced as the winner of the £3,000 prize at a special ceremony at the Kendal Mountain Festival on Friday evening. The Canadian author joins a small number of authors to have won the award on two occasions, following a win in 2011 for her book Freedom Climbers.

Announcing the winner, chair of judges Helen Mort said of Art of Freedom, ‘It’s a profound and subtle profile of one of the international climbing world’s most complex mountaineers. We felt the writing was meticulously crafted and that the book makes extreme mountaineering accessible to the lay reader.’ 

This is the second major award win for Art of Freedom following the announcement last month that the book had scooped the Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature (non-fiction) in the Banff Mountain Book Competition.

Established in 1983, the Boardman Tasker Award commemorates the lives of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker – outstanding mountaineers and accomplished authors – who disappeared together high on Everest in 1982. It is presented annually to the author or co-authors of an original work that has made an outstanding contribution to mountain literature.

Vertebrate Publishing titles made up three of the six books shortlisted for the 2017 prize with The Magician’s Glass by Ed Douglas and Days to Remember by Rob Collister also selected from a total of thirty-five submissions. Vertebrate Publishing titles have won the Boardman Tasker Award on three prior occasions: The Bond by Simon McCartney scooped the 2016 award, Cold Wars by Andy Kirkpatrick won in 2012, and Rock Athlete by Ron Fawcett and Ed Douglas in 2010.

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