The 2011 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography went to Stacy Schiff for Cleopatra: A Life (Little, Brown and Company).

The PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award is a prize of $5,000 given to a distinguished biography possessing notable literary merit which has been published in the United States during the previous calendar year. The award was established by Rodman L. Drake.

2011 Judges

Brad Gooch, Benjamin Taylor, Amanda Vaill

From The Judges’ Citation

Cleopatra is less conventional biography than epic prose poem, a tale to be told by firelight. Under the spell of Stacy Schiff’s bardic powers one forgets everything but the glittering, inexhaustible drama of the last of the Pompeys. It is a song of blood-curdling nerve, calamitous passion, and everlasting glamour. In bravura prose, Schiff writes about a figure veiled in her own immense legend, known to us only through fragmentary and tendentious ancient sources, more floating aura than specifiable woman, more sheen than substance. And yet what this biography renders is no Hollywood fantasy; instead we get the forever conjectural—but in this book somehow fully dramatized—Greek-speaking queen with the hooked nose, strong chin, incomparable riches, and strong appetite for power politics. Here is life writing built to last as long as the pyramids.”