Michael Blakemore has won this year’s Sheridan Morley book prize for theatre writing.
The director, who is currently working on Blithe Spirit in the West End, received the award for Stage Blood – an account that deals with Peter Hall’s leadership of the National Theatre from 1973 and the rivalry that developed between the two directors.
It is described as a “candid and at times painfully funny story” of the events that led to Blakemore – who was an associate director at the National at the time – leaving the venue in 1976.
Blakemore said he was “relieved” to have been recognised because it meant his version of events had been accepted.
“Winning this means people have accepted that I did make an effort to be even-handed – though I may not have succeeded – and they accept the story as written from my point of view,” he said.
He added that the account was not meant to be about “settling scores” because “too much time had elapsed” since the events detailed in the book had happened.
Blakemore beat actor Michael Simkins’ The Rules of Acting and Philip Ziegler’s biography of Laurence Olivier, called Olivier, to the £2000 cash prize.
The Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography, established in 2008 in honour of biographer Sheridan Morley, is given to the best biography, autobiography or diary in theatre published in the preceding calendar year.
This year’s judging panel was chaired by Ruth Leon and comprised literary agent Alan Brodie, Bush Theatre former director Jenny Topper, and Stephen Unwin, former artistic director of the Rose Theatre Kingston.