Winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2022: Beryl – In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete, Beryl Burton by Jeremy Wilson

Football may have had two titles in the shortlist of five finalists – Be Good, Love Brian: Growing Up with Brian Clough by Craig Bromfield and Expected Goals: The Story of how Data Conquered Football and Changed the Game Forever by Rory Smith – but it was Beryl – In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete, Beryl Burton by Jeremy Wilson that took the top prize.

The synopsis of the book is as follows:

Cyclist Beryl Burton – also known as BB – dominated her sport much as her male contemporary Eddy Merckx, but with a longevity that surpasses even sporting legends like Muhammad Ali, Serena Williams and Sir Steve Redgrave.

She was practically invincible in time trials, finishing as Best All-Rounder for 25 consecutive years and setting a world record in 1967 for the distance covered in 12 hours that beat the men. She won multiple world titles, even when the distances didn’t play to her strengths. But her achievements were limited by discrimination from the cycling authorities, and by her strictly amateur status against state-sponsored rivals from Eastern Bloc nations.

Yet she carried on winning, beating men and – infamously – competing against her own daughter, while working on a farm and running a household. Her motivation, sparked by appalling childhood illness, is as fascinating as her achievements are stunning.

With access to previously unseen correspondence and photographs, and through extensive interviews with family, friends, rivals and fellow giants from across sport, acclaimed journalist Jeremy Wilson peels back the layers to reveal one of the most complex, enigmatic and compelling characters in cycling history.

For the first time, he also provides the jaw-dropping answer to how fast she would still be on modern cycling technology. Long ignored by sporting history, Burton’s life story – recently told by Maxine Peake in a stage and radio play – is finally getting the recognition she deserves.

  • Publisher: Pursuit Books; Main edition (7 July 2022)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages


Buy the book here: Beryl

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