prizes 2008

Prizes, grants and awards

The Authors’ Awards 2008

Annual awards and prizes judged by writers and hosted by the Society of Authors.

More than £70,000 in prize money was presented to twenty-three writers on Wednesday 18th June 2008 at a reception held in the Great Hall at Bart’s in West Smithfield.

The awards were introduced by the Chair of the Society of Authors, Tracy Chevalier, and presented by Terry Pratchett.

2008 Award Winners and Judges

The Elizabeth Longford Prize

The Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography was first awarded in 2003 and is generously sponsored by Flora Fraser and Peter Soros in affectionate memory of Elizabeth Longford. The prize is presented by Lady Antonia Fraser.

Winner: Rosemary Hill for God’s Architect – Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Allen Lane) – £5,000

Judges: Lady Antonia Fraser, Flora Fraser, Roy Foster, Andrew Roberts and A.N. Wilson

The Cholmondeley Awards

The Cholmondeley Awards for Poets were founded by the late Dowager Marchioness of Cholmondeley in 1966 to recognise the achievement and distinction of individual poets. The recipients are chosen for their general body of work and contribution to poetry.

Winners: John Burnside, John Greening, David Harsent and Sarah Maguire – £1,500 each

Judges: Dennis O’Driscoll, David Morley, Carole Satyamurti and Henry Shukman

The Eric Gregory Awards

The Eric Gregory Awards were founded in 1960 by the late Dr Eric Gregory for the encouragement of young poets. Awards are given for a collection by poets under the age of 30.

Recent Gregory winners are featured at a reading at Rada, Malet St. WC1 at 7.45pm on 19th June and also at the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Friday 11th July at 10.30am – for details: 0845 458 1743.

Winners: Emily Berry, Rhiannon Hooson, James Midgley, Adam O’Riordan and Heather Phillipson – £4000 each

Judges: Moniza Alvi, Cary Archard, Maura Dooley, John Greening, Sophie Hannah, and Owen Sheers

The Olive Cook Award

This award began in 2004 and is financed by a bequest from Olive Cook, who died in 2002. The £1,000 award is biennial and made for a short story, which must be a work of traditional, rather than experimental character.

Winner: Alison MacLeod for Dirty Weekend, which is taken from Fifteen Tales of Attraction (Hamish Hamilton)

Judges: Jane Gardam and Duncan Minshull

The Somerset Maugham Awards

W. Somerset Maugham set up a fund in 1947 to enable young writers to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Awards are given for a published work of any genre except drama by a writer under the age of 35. The prize money must be used for foreign travel.

Winners: Gwendoline Riley for Joshua Spassky (Cape) – £4,000 and Steven Hall for The Raw Shark Texts (Canongate), Nick Laird for On Purpose (Faber) and Adam Thirlwell for Miss Herbert (Cape) each of whom received £2,000

Judges: Susan Elderkin, Rory Stewart and Matt Thorne

The Travelling Scholarships

The Travelling Scholarships are awarded on a non-competitive basis to allow authors to travel and to keep in touch with colleagues abroad. They were established in 1944 by an anonymous sponsor.

Winners: Marina Lewycka, Ruth Padel and Colin Thubron, who each received – £1,650

Judges: Lisa Appignanesi, Helena Drysdale, Kay Dunbar, Peter Kemp and Mark McCrum .

The McKitterick Prize

Tom McKitterick, the former editor of Political Quarterly and author of an unpublished novel, endowed the McKitterick Prize which was first awarded in 1990. It is given annually to an author over the age of 40 for a first novel, published or unpublished.

Winner: Jennie Walker for 24 for 3 (CB Editons and Bloomsbury) – £4000

Judges: Andrew Cowan, Linda Grant and Salley Vickers

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards

Betty Trask left a bequest to the Society of Authors in 1983 to fund a prize for first novels written by authors under the age of 35 in a romantic or traditional, but not experimental, style. The prize money must be used for foreign travel.

Prize winner: David Szalay for London and the South-East (Cape) – £10,000

Award winners: Ross Raisin for God’s Own Country (Viking) – £6,000

Thomas Leveritt for The Exchange Rate Between Love and Money (Harvill Secker) and Anna Ralph for The Floating Island (Hutchinson) – £2,000 each

Judges: Andrew Holgate, Elizabeth Buchan and Rachel Cusk

Notes on the winners

The Elizabeth Longford Prize

Rosemary Hill was born and brought up in London and is married to the poet Christopher Logue. She is a trustee of the Victorian Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a member of the Editorial Board of the London Review of Books and from 2004-5 was visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.

Currently studying for a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London, she is also a writer and essayist. Stonehenge, her second book, is newly published and her next book will be on the subject of antiquaries in the age of romanticism.

Cholmondeley Awards

John Burnside is the author of seven works of fiction – short stories and novels, the most recent being Glister (Cape) and a volume of memoir, A Lie About My Father, which was given the Saltire Book of the Year.

The third of his eight collections of poetry, Feast Days, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and he was awarded the Whitbread Poetry Prize for The Asylum Dance.

He was born in Dunfermline and is a former computer software engineer. His home is now in Fife, where he is a reader at the University of St Andrews.

John Greening was born in Chiswick and now lives with his wife and two daughters in Stonely, near St Neots, Huntingdonshire and teaches at Kimbolton School. He is a short story writer and critic – he has written on W.B.Yeats, Ted Hughes, Thomas Hardy and the poets of the First World War.

Also a playwright, he won the Best New Play Award in 1982 at the Edinburgh Festival. He has written eleven poetry collections, the latest being the newly published Iceland Spar (Shoestring). He is currently working on, Hunts: Poems 1978-2008 (Greenwich Exchange), an anthology of music poems (Enitharmon) and a critical study of Edward Thomas (also Greenwich Exchange).

David Harsent has published eight collections of poetry. The most recent, Legion (Faber), was awarded the Forward Prize for the best collection of 2005 and shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot and Whitbread Awards.

He has collaborated with a number of composers including Harrison Birtwistle and his work in music theatre has been performed at the Royal Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Proms and on television.

Born in Bovey Tracey, Devon, he lives in London and is the Distinguished Writing Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University.

Sarah Maguire is the founder and director of the Poetry Translation Centre and has published four collections of poetry. The Pomegranates of Kandahar (Chatto), her latest volume of poetry, was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2007.

Her poems have been translated into Arabic, Malayalam, Uzbek and Pashto and she is currently co-translating the Sudanese poet Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (PTC and Enitharmon). She lives in West London.

Eric Gregory Awards

Emily Berry’s pamphlet will appear from Tall Lighthouse later this year. She was commended in the 2007 Bridport Prize and Poetry London Prize. She lives in London and is currently working as a freelance copyeditor and is the breakfast reviewer Poppy Tartt for the London Review of Breakfasts website.

Rhiannon Hooson is a PhD student in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. She was born in rural mid-Wales and now lives in the South Lakes area in Cumbria. In 2006 she published a series of ten poems in Seren Selections. She is at work on her first novel.

James Midgley has been studying literature and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. He was runner-up in the 2007 Poetry Business Competition and edits the poetry journal Mimesis. Born in Windsor, his home is just outside Henley, Oxfordshire.

Adam O’Riordan is from Manchester. He won the inaugural Peters, Fraser and Dunlop Poetry Prize during postgraduate study under Andrew Motion at the University of London. Queen of the Cotton Cities was published by Tall Lighthouse last year. He co-edited a forthcoming edition of Michael Donaghy’s Collected Prose and is the new poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, Cumbria.

Heather Phillipson is an artist and poet living in London. She gives regular readings and  also works as a freelance exhibition reviewer. Her video works have been screened within Britain and internationally and a pamphlet will appear in the Pilot series for poets under 30 from Tall Lighthouse this year. She won the Michael Donaghy Poetry Prize in 2006.

The Olive Cook Award  

Alison MacLeod grew up in Canada, moving to England in 1987. A senior lecturer in English at the University of Chichester, she teaches creative writing and lives in Brighton. She is the author of two novels – The Changeling and The Wave Theory of Angels and her winning story is taken from her short story collection Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction (Hamish Hamilton).

Somerset Maugham Awards

Gwendoline Riley was born in 1979 and lives in Manchester. She won a Society of Authors’ Betty Trask Award with her first novel, Cold Water. She is also the author of Sick Notes and Tuesday Nights and Wednesday Mornings and is at work on a new novel, Three Leaps.

Steven Hall was born in Derbyshire in 1975 and now lives in Hull. He completed a fine arts degree, and has produced a number of plays, music videos, conceptual art pieces and short stories.The Raw Shark Texts won the Borders Original Voices Award for Fiction and is currently being developed as a film.

Nick Laird was born in 1975 in Co. Tyrone and studied English at Cambridge, where he won the Quiller-Couch Award for creative writing. He won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize for his first poetry collection, To a Fault.

Now living in Rome, he is also the author of a novel, Utterly Monkey, which was awarded the Society of Authors’ Betty Trask prize in 2006.

Adam Thirlwell was born in 1978. His first novel, Politics, won a Society of Authors’ Betty Trask award in 2003 and he was on Granta’s list of Best British Novelists under 40 in the same year. He is a fellow of All Souls, Oxford and assistanteditor of Areté

Travelling Scholarships

Marina Lewycka was born in a refugee camp in Kiel in Germany and now lives in Sheffield. Currently teaching at Sheffield Hallam University, she has been a sausage-twister, waitress, public relations officer and freelance writer.

She has written a number of non-fiction books on the care of the elderly. Her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian won the Bollinger Everyman Woodhouse Prize and the Saga Award for Wit and was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize and longlisted for the Booker. Her second novel, Two Caravans, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize (Penguin/Fig Tree) and she is at work on a third.

Ruth Padel is a former winner of the National Poetry Competition and is currently Poet in Residence at Somerset House. She is the author of six poetry collections, four of which have been Poetry Book Society Choices or Recommendations. She has written short stories and seven non-fiction volumes including her latest book, The Poem and the Journey (Chatto). A critic and reviewer, she lives in London and is currently at work on her first novel, Hamadryad.

Colin Thubron’s first book, Mirror to Damascus, was published in 1967 and he continued to write about the Middle East in The Hills of Adonis: a Quest in Lebanon and Jerusalem.

In all he has written eleven works of non-fiction, exploring the old Soviet Union, China and Islam. Behind the Wall: a Journey through China won the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award.

His latest book was Shadow of the Silk Road (Chatto). He is the author of six novels and has received the RGS Mungo Park Medal and the Royal Society for Asian Affairs Lawrence of Arabia Medal. He lives in London and is currently writing a book on Tibet.

The McKitterick Prize

Jennie Walker is the pseudonym of Charles Boyle, the author of three poetry collections: The Age of Cardboard and String which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Award, Paleface, shortlisted for the Forward Prize, and The Very Man. He received a Cholmondeley Award in 1981.

He lives in London with his wife and sons and has worked in publishing for around thirty years. Unable to find a publisher he produced his first novel 24 for 3 under a pen name for his independent CB Editions imprint. Bloomsbury will bring out a new edition of the book later this summer.

The Betty Trask Prize

David Szalay was born in Montreal, Canada but has lived in the UK since very early childhood and is now based in London. He has written a number of radio plays and is currently at work on a second novel.

Three Betty Trask Awards

Ross Raisin is from Silsden, West Yorkshire. He studied at Goldsmiths College and now lives in London, working on his second novel and as a waiter. He got to know the North Yorkshire moorland landscape of God’s Own Country when he met his fiancée and will be married there later this year.

Thomas Leveritt is a soldier turned writer and painter, with awards from the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. He was born in Glasgow and now lives in London.

Anna Ralph was born in Thornaby, Cleveland, and is the daughter of novelist Pat Barker. She has worked as a journalist, bookseller and organizer of the Literature Festival in Durham – where she now lives with her partner. Her second novel, Before I Knew Him, will be published in early July.

For further information contact Paula Johnson / tel: 0207 3709810

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