Literary honours for Sunderland academic’s boxing book

Dr David Snowdon with his new book.
Dr David Snowdon with his new book.
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THE gloves are off for a Wearside lecturer whose boxing book has scooped a national award.

Dr David Snowdon’s study of 19th-century sports reporter, Pierce Egan, has been awarded a literary prize.

The book, Writing the Prizefight: Pierce Egan’s Boxiana World, has been named winner of the 2014 British Society of Sports History’s Lord Aberdare Literary Prize.

Dr Snowdon, a part-time tutor at The University of Sunderland, said: “I began looking deeper into Pierce Egan because I was studying his metropolitan writing at the University of Sunderland.

“That’s what led me to find his other main branch of writing, which was sports reporting, primarily bare-knuckle prizefighting.

“As with most sporting events the reality often fails to match the pre-event hype, so I would suggest that Egan often embellished.

“If he didn’t exactly fabricate events he would use the language at his disposal, like comparing the heroes with classical figures or military leaders.

“He was different, and he was recognised even at the time as being unlike others. There are quotes saying that if you read Pierce Egan it’s like standing shoulder to shoulder in the crowd; he transports you into the arena as if you are there.”

“His imagination ran riot at times, and in fact for some of his contemporaries he was too colourful.”

Dr Snowdon will now be the keynote speaker at the British Society of Sports History Conference next year, where he will give the prestigious Aberdare Lecture.

“The award was a most welcome one because as far as I’m concerned it broadens the appeal of Pierce Egan.

“I would like people to acknowledge that he is a worthwhile figure in literary circles, that he is unjustly neglected.”