‘We would have been lynched if we’d won’ – Sunderland Costa Prize couple

Bryan and Mary Talbot working on illustrations for their joint book from their home in Asbrooke, sunderland
Bryan and Mary Talbot working on illustrations for their joint book from their home in Asbrooke, sunderland
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BRYAN Talbot admits he and wife Mary “would have been lynched” if their graphic novel Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes had scooped one of literature’s top prizes.

The book – written by Mary and illustrated by Bryan – lost out to Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies when the Costa prize was announced this week.

The Talbots, who live in St Bede’s Terrace, Ashbrooke, had impressed the judges enough to win the biography section of the awards, the first time a graphic novel had been honoured in the Costas.

But Bryan admitted the couple never thought they would win the overall competition.

“We weren’t expecting to beat a two-time Booker Prize winner,” he said.

“If we had won, there would have been a riot. We’d have been lynched.”

But while Bryan and Mary may not have walked off with the top prize, they made the most of the glitzy evening.

“It was great,” said Bryan.

“The warmth from the people there was incredible. Loads of people came up to tell us how much they enjoyed the book. It was marvellous.

“I was talking to all sorts of people. I was chatting to Ian Hislop, who was a lovely man.”

Bryan and the Have I got News For You star bonded over their love of 17th-century satire.

He added: “I said ‘We share a passion for William Hogarth’ and as soon as I said that, we were off.”

Dotter of her Father’s Eyes intertwines the story of James Joyce’s relationship with his daughter Lucia with that of Mary and her father James Atherton, one of the world’s leading Joyceian academics.

Bryan illustrations are perfectly matched to his wife’s words, using black-and-white images for the scenes of Lucia in the 1930s, sepia for Mary’s childhood and adolescence and full colour for the modern scenes to ensure the reader never gets lost as the book moves backwards and forwards through time.

Mary is amazed at how well the book has been received.

“We were delighted that we made it to the final,” she said.

“We had no chance ahead of Hilary Mantel, but it was a lovely night and we had a great time”

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