Bill Bryson in running for second major science literary prize

Author Bill Bryson speaks to a full audience at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye.
Author Bill Bryson speaks to a full audience at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye.

Bill Bryson is in the running to win the Royal Society Science Book Prize for a second time.

The best-selling author, 68, is nominated for The Body: A Guide For Occupants, which was published in October last year and explores the human body, how it functions and heals itself.

He previously won in 2004 with A Short History Of Nearly Everything.

The Body: A Guide For Occupants (Doubleday/PA)

The coveted £25,000 award celebrates the best in popular science writing from around the world, with £2,500 awarded to each of the shortlisted authors.

Science writer and broadcaster Gaia Vince is also up for a second win with Transcendence, after claiming the prize in 2015.

The six-strong shortlist also features The World According To Physics by Jim Al-Khalili and The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan.

Postdoctoral scientist and debut author Dr Camilla Pang is nominated for Explaining Humans, while Oxford scholar Linda Scott is nominated for The Double X Economy.

Gaia Vince also features on the short list (Phil Fisk/PA)

A shortlist was selected from more than 172 submissions published between July 1 2019 and September 30 2020.

Biologist and poet Professor Anne Osbourn, chairwoman of this year’s judging panel, said the books “represent carefully crafted explorations of the worlds both around and within us”.

She added: “These books make science intriguing, accessible and exciting.

“Some raise awareness of the scientific process, and of our understanding that scientists are humans too.

“Others are a call to arms, asking us to consider our place in the universe and what we can bring to humanity in our various ways.

“There is darkness, revelation and hope. There is inspiration.”

Alongside Prof Osbourn, the 2020 judging panel features Blackwell’s trade buying manager Katharine Fry, journalist Katy Guest, Royal Society university research fellow Dr Kartic Subr, and actress and author Sophie Ward.

The winner will be announced in a virtual awards ceremony on November 3.

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