Daisy Dunn awarded the Classical Association Prize 2020

The Classical Association Prize is awarded annually to the person who is felt to have raised the profile of the Classics in the public eye. This year’s prize of £5,000 has been awarded to author, classicist and cultural critic Daisy Dunn.

The CA’s Outreach Officer Dr Sharon Marshall has written a profile of Daisy - the full version is available here, and an extract below:

'Daisy’s interests in the history of the late Roman Republic and early Empire, classical literature, and the art of Renaissance Italy underpin a large part of her work. Having read Classics at St Hilda’s, Oxford, before completing a Master’s in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute,she completed a doctorate on Classics and Art History at University College London where she was awarded an AHRC doctoral award, the Gay Clifford Award for Outstanding Women Scholars, and an Italian Cultural Society scholarship.

Daisy’s earliest publications included Catullus' Bedspread: The Life of Rome’s Most Erotic Poet (William Collins 2016), a biography of the poet that takes its name from Poem 64 (...). The biography was written to coincide with the publication of her translation of the poems of Catullus, which sought to be true to the text while translating it for a modern audience (...).

Highlighting the familiarity between the ancient world and our own has become the hallmark of Daisy’s work. Her recent Ladybird Expert Book on Homer (Penguin 2019) not only offers a guide to the plots of the Homeric epics, but also explores their major themes, inspirations, and their legacies. Homer also makes an appearance in Of Gods and Men: 100 Stories from Ancient Greece & Rome (Head of Zeus, 2019), an anthology in which Daisy has gathered together tales that showcase the diversity and vitality of classical literature and interwoven well-known translations with her own.

Last year also saw the publication of the much-anticipated In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny (William Collins 2019), a rich and lively biography that intertwines material from the younger Pliny’s Letters and Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. This work has been met with great acclaim, being listed among the Sunday Times’s ‘Best Books of 2019 so far’, History Today’s ‘Books of the Year 2019’, Waterstones’ ‘Best History Books of 2019’ and many more. (...)

In his review of In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny, Tom Holland recently paid fitting tribute to Daisy’s ability to breathe life into the ancient world: ‘Without ever veering into historical fiction, she consistently succeeds in bringing what might otherwise seem dusty and remote to vivid life... The result is a portrait of the Roman Empire that gives the reader something of the shiver down the spine that Herculaneum can inspire: a sense that we are as close to the vanished world of two millennia ago as we are ever likely to get.’

It is this quality that makes Daisy so worthy a winner of this year’s prize and, although the current global health crisis prevents us from honouring her achievement in person, we look forward to a time when we will be properly able to celebrate her success and thank her for enhancing the public appeal of Classics and for the joy that she brings to her readers.'