The Walter Scott Prize Longlist 2023

The longlist for the 2023 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction was announced yesterday! Thanks to this prize, I have discovered lots of great books and authors and always look out for the longlists and shortlists; in fact, trying to read all of the shortlisted titles since the prize began in 2010 is a personal project of mine (you can see my progress here).

There are twelve books on this year’s longlist and here they are:

The Romantic by William Boyd (Viking)

These Days by Lucy Caldwell (Faber & Faber)

My Name is Yip by Paddy Crewe (Doubleday)

The Geometer Lobachevsky by Adrian Duncan (Tuskar Rocks)

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris (Hutchinson Heinemann)

The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Paterson Joseph (Dialogue Books)

The Chosen by Elizabeth Lowry (Riverrun)

The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley by Sean Lusk (Doubleday)

The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane (Allen & Unwin)

Ancestry by Simon Mawer (Little, Brown)

I am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam (Blue Moose Books)

The Settlement by Jock Serong (Text Publishing)


I’m delighted to see The Romantic on the longlist as it was one of my favourite books of 2022. I would love to see it win – I really thought it was wonderful! I’m not surprised to see Act of Oblivion here too, as Robert Harris has been nominated for (and in fact, won) this prize in the past. It’s not a book that I personally loved, but I’ll be quite happy if it makes the shortlist. The only other one I’ve read is The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley, an entertaining read but not one I was expecting to find on the longlist, so I’ll be interested to see whether it progresses any further.

These Days, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho and Ancestry are all books I’m aware of and would like to read (I have reserved These Days from the library), but I haven’t even heard of the other six! I obviously need to do some investigating.

The shortlist will be announced in April and a winner in mid-June at the Border Books Festival in Melrose, Scotland.

Have you read any of these books? Are you pleased to see them on the longlist?

26 thoughts on “The Walter Scott Prize Longlist 2023

  1. Margaret Quiett says:

    I have read The Romantic, Act of Oblivion and The Chosen. Liked all of them very much and happy they are in the running for the prize!

  2. Calmgrove says:

    I’ve already got myself a copy of The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley but I’ve seen interesting things about the Paterson Joseph title and its subject, so I’m rather tempted, though I may look for a library copy of that.

    • Helen says:

      The Paterson Joseph is one I’m particularly tempted by too, although I don’t have a copy of it yet. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Zachary Cloudesley!

  3. whatmeread says:

    Gosh, I haven’t read any of them yet, although The Romantic is high on my list. I hope Simon Mawer doesn’t make the shortlist, because I’ve read enough by him to last me a lifetime. Haven’t read the Robert Harris yet.

    • Helen says:

      I haven’t read any of Simon Mawer’s books yet, but yes, this must be the third or fourth time he’s been nominated! I hope you like The Romantic and Act of Oblivion.

  4. jekdc says:

    Always like to see what is on the long list for this prize although what I perceive to be a Celtic bias slightly detracts. I don’t know if the prize is aimed at Scottish or Irish authors or those with connections? I’ve read earlier novels by Elizabeth Lowry and Simon Mawer so will read their latest. Agree with your comment on Act of Oblivion and looking forward to reading The Romantic when it comes out in paperback.

    • Helen says:

      Well, it’s a Scottish-based prize for books published in the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth, but I agree that the recent longlists do seem heavily stacked with Irish and Scottish authors. I haven’t read anything by Elizabeth Lowry or Simon Mawer yet, so will try to read those two books. I hope you enjoy The Romantic – it was probably the best book I read last year.

      • jekc says:

        That’s high praise indeed. I should say, by the way, that I have absolutely nothing against Irish and Scottish authors, far from it, there are obviously very many fine ones!

  5. margaret21 says:

    Like you, I so enjoyed the William Boyd – right up there as one of my Top Books of 2022. However, I have read not one of the others (the shame!) so am not entitled to comment.

  6. Julé Cunningham says:

    The Sun Walks Down, which was just released here, is on my TBR after seeing such high praise for it in Australia, and The Romantic (released here later this year), may well join it. But there are titles on the list that don’t ring a bell at all!

    • Helen says:

      I hadn’t come across The Sun Walks Down until now, but it does sound interesting. There are always a lot of books on the Walter Scott Prize longlists that I’ve never heard of, which surprises me as I read so much historical fiction! It’s a good way to discover new books and authors, though.

  7. BookerTalk says:

    I’ve read one Simon Mawer but really didn’t care much for it so unlikely to read this one. William Boyd used to be one of my favourite authors but I haven’t liked his more recent works.
    So I’m more interested in the authors from this list that I haven’t come across before.

    Surprised not to see Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell not here but perhaps it was on last year’s list??

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