Nottingham professor scoops double accolade

20 Apr 2010 00:00:00.000

PA 92/10

A new book written by a University of Nottingham professor on the life of the American author Mark Twain is attracting international acclaim after scooping two prestigious book prizes.


Mark Twain and Male Friendship: The Twichell, Howells and Rogers Friendships

 by leading Twain expert Peter Messent, Head of School and Professor of Modern American Literature in the University’s School of American and Canadian Studies, has been announced as the winner of the European Association for American Studies (EAAS) American Studies Network Book Prize 2010 and the British Association for American Studies (BAAS) Annual Book Prize for 2009.


Professor Messent said: “I am, of course, delighted by these awards. I have spent the last decade, one way and another, researching and writing this book, and am very pleased that the larger American Studies community has recognised its value in this way."


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Mark Twain and Male Friendship: The Twichell, Howells and Rogers Friendships is the first biography to chart the overall influence of key male friendships that profoundly informed Twain’s life and work. It concentrates on the close relationships that he formed with his pastor Joseph Twichell, fellow author and collaborator William Dean Howells and Standard Oil executive H.H Rogers. 


Featuring 13 rare and hard-to-find photos of Twain, the book represents not only a valuable new resource on the novelist but a lively and accessible cultural history of male friendship in 19th century America. It connects these men’s interactions at a private level to their roles and influence on the public stage in the three key areas of religion, literature and business respectively.


The American Studies Network, a group of 17 European centres involved in the study of the US, announced its biennial prize for a remarkable monograph published in English in the field of American Studies at the recent 2010 European Association for American Studies conference held in Dublin.


Professor Messent shared the prize with fellow scholar Christopher Bigsby and his biographical work Arthur Miller: 1915–1962

 — their books were chosen from a strong original shortlist of 15.


Judges praised Professor Messent’s book as an exemplification of American Studies scholarship at its very best and its author for his tremendous insight and knowledge about Mark Twain and his world.


They add: “Twain’s long and lasting friendships with three men serve as a prism through which light is refracted onto the whole emotional spectrum of American society of the Gilded Age. Well-researched and inspiring, this is very much a book in the multidisciplinary American Studies tradition.”


The British Association for American Studies announced Professor Messent as winner of its third annual book prize — which comes with a monetary reward of £500 — at its annual meeting at the University of East Anglia earlier this month.


Mark Twain and Male Friendship: The Twichell, Howells and Rogers Friendships is published by Oxford University Press and since its publication has garnered glowing reviews from around the world.


— Ends —


Notes to editors:

 The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings.


More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.


The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

 Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.



Story credits

More information is available from Professor Peter Messent on +44 (0)115 951 4265, peter.messent@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Thorne

Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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