Authors urge Booker Prize bosses to reinstate Baroness Nicholson

Leading authors urge Booker Prize bosses to reinstate Baroness Nicholson after she was axed as vice-president amid transphobia row

  • Baroness Nicholson was axed as vice-president of the Booker Prize Foundation
  • The Tory peer voted against same-sex marriage, but has denied being anti-gay
  • She was also alleged to have ‘misgendered’ transgender model Munroe Bergdorf
  • Group of female authors called ‘Wild Woman Writing Club’ submitted a letter
  • They state they are ‘dismayed’ by the ‘hasty’ decision to abolish the post

Leading authors are calling for Baroness Nicholson to be reinstated as honorary vice-president of the Booker Prize Foundation after she was dropped over allegations of transphobia and homophobia.

The Tory peer – whose late husband helped to found the prize – voted against same-sex marriage in 2013, but has denied being anti-gay.

She was also alleged to have ‘misgendered’ a transgender campaigner and was subsequently axed from her Booker role last month. But a group of female authors which calls itself the ‘Wild Woman Writing Club’ have submitted a letter which says they are ‘dismayed’ by the ‘hasty’ decision to abolish the post.

Among those putting their name to the letter is Trezza Azzopardi, who has been shortlisted for the literary award herself.


Leading authors are calling for Baroness Nicholson (left) to be reinstated as honorary vice-president of the Booker Prize Foundation after she was dropped over allegations she ‘misgendered’ transgender model Munroe Bergdorf (right)

Other signatories include Susan Hill, Elizabeth Speller, Helen Dale, Jane Harris, Justin Hill and Joolz Denby. The trans row erupted when Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender model and activist, said she was referring Baroness Nicholson to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over posts on social media about the trans community.

In a comment piece for the Evening Standard, Miss Bergdorf attacked the baroness, stating: ‘In a since-deleted tweet, you branded me a “weird creature” and misgendered me, in an ongoing conversation in mockery of trans lives.’

Misgendering involves someone wilfully using language that does not correctly reflect the gender with which the recipient identifies.

Among those putting their name to the letter – in which writers say they are ‘dismayed’ by the ‘hasty’ decision to abolish the post – is Trezza Azzopardi, who has been shortlisted for the literary award herself

However, Baroness Nicholson, 78, said she had been left ‘saddened and angered’ by the accusations and added that she has made a ‘lifetime commitment to promote equality and diversity’.

Last night Baroness Nicholson told the Daily Mail: ‘I voted against same-sex marriage and in favour of same-sex partnership equal rights to marriage (the Stonewall amendment) in 2013. I have since been wholly comfortable with same-sex marriage. The law is the law.’

The group’s letter, which has more than 1,000 signatures, reads: ‘The Booker trustees appear to have participated in “cancel culture”, applying moral standards differently to different people, and allowing Baroness Nicholson – a respected figure with long-standing ties to the Prize – to be pilloried for an historic position taken because of her religious beliefs.’

The Wild Woman Writing Club’s Twitter also wrote: ‘Free expression matters. Women matter. Literature should be a place where ideas, and words, are free.’

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