Rosemary Sullivan wins 2015 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

The author of Stalin's Daughter wins the $60,000 prize.
Rosemary Sullivan won the 2015 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction on Tuesday.

Rosemary Sullivan has won the richest nonfiction prize in Canada. Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, a moving and insightful exploration of Stalin's only daughter and favourite child, was named the 2015 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction winner at a gala event on Tuesday, October 6.

"All my fellow nominees wrote brilliant books," Sullivan told CBC Books after the announcement. "It was quite a shock and a bit tearful when I finally heard my name." Sullivan is grateful for the award's recognition, but also for what it does for nonfiction writing in Canada. "It's astonishingly important. It gives prominence to Canadian writing."

The finalists and winner were selected by a three-member jury: JJ Lee, Stevie Cameron and Will Ferguson.

The jury said: "Stalin's Daughter expansively intertwines history, political intrigue, espionage and domestic drama, yet Sullivan hones the episodes to one struggle: Alliluyeva's attempt to escape her father's shadow. When the "Soviet Princess" died, she was treated in the media more like a post-Cold War curiosity. Sullivan's book delivers a fully wrought literary heroine."

The remaining finalists received $5,000 each. They are:

  • Tell It to the World: International Justice and the Secret Campaign to Hide Mass Murder in Kosovo by Eliott Behar
  • Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent by Douglas Coupland
  • Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia — The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated a Nation by Dean Jobb
  • Cease: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Desire by Lynette Loeppky

Rosemary Sullivan discussed Stalin's Daughter on CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition earlier this year.

Also honoured at the gala was 18-year-old Nico Branham, who won the 2015 student nonfiction writing prize. Part of the Hilary Weston Prize program for the third year, Branham receives $2,500 for her story "Outside the Window, a Billion Stars Are Moving Past Me at the Speed of Light.".


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?