'Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream', a biography about the Norwegian painter by British writer Sue Prideaux, has won the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
The Prize has been awarded annually since 1919 by the University of Edinburgh and is split into two categories - one for best fiction which went to Ian McEwan's 'Saturday', and the other for best biography. Each winner will receive £10,000 at a ceremony in Edinburgh on 29 June.
Sue Prideaux was born in England but baptised in Norway. Her godmother was painted by Munch and her family were his neighbours and supporters. She completed her education and training as an art historian in Florence, Paris and London. Her close links to Norway continue and one of her most successful novels, 'Magnetic North', is largely set there.
Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream is her first biography. It was prompted by the thought, 'Everyone knows the painting; nobody knows the man.' She devoted four years to discovering the man behind the most haunting icon of the modern world, and she says this has proved so enjoyable that it's unlikely to be her last biography.
Edvard Munch was twenty-eight when he embarked on a lifelong effort to paint his ‘soul’s diary’. His ambition was to create an image of enduring psychological truth constructed from the laboratory of his own eventful and tormented existence: ‘I try from self-scrutiny to dissect what is universal in the soul’. In these pictures, Munch explored anarchism, symbolism, the occult, decadence and the irrational depths of the psyche through the nascent discipline of psychotherapy.