prizes 2009

Grants and Prizes


The Authors’ Awards 2009

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

More than £65,000 in prize money was presented to twenty-two writers on Thursday 18th June 2009 at a reception held in the Cavalry and Guards Club, Piccadilly.

The awards were introduced by the Chair of the Society of Authors, Dame Margaret Drabble, and presented by Sebastian Faulks.

2009 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: Mark Bostridge for Florence Nightingale: The Woman and Her Legend (Viking) – £5,000.


Mark Bostridge was educated at Oxford University where he won the Gladstone Memorial Prize. His first book Vera Brittain: a Life was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award, the NCR non-fiction Prize, and the Fawcett Prize. He has written for many newspapers and periodicals including the TLS, Independent on Sunday, Guardian and Sunday Times.

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: Bernard O’Donoghue, Alice Oswald, Fiona Sampson and Pauline Stainer – £1,500 each.

Bernard O’Donoghue was born in Cullen, Co Cork, where he still spends part of the year. Since 1965 he has lived in Oxford, where he is a Fellow in English at Wadham College. He is the author and editor of many critical works and has published six collections: Gunpowder won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, The Weakness was awarded the Southern Arts Prize, and Here Nor There and Outliving were shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. His Selected Poems came out in 2008 and his next collection is provisionally called Farmers Cross.

Alice Oswald lives in Dartington, Devon, and also works as a gardener on the Dartington Estate. She trained as a classicist and received an Eric Gregory Award in 1994. Her first collection of poetry, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile, was published in 1996 and that collection won a Forward Poetry Prize. She is the author of four further poetry collections: Dart, awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2002, Woods etc., for which she received the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 2005 and her two most recent books, A Sleepwalker on the Severn and Weeds and Wild Flowers were both published this year.

Fiona Sampson was born in London and lives in Oxfordshire. After a first life as a concert violinist she took a PhD in philosophy of language at Nijmegan. She has published poetry, translation – specialising in the literature of Eastern Europe – and practical and critical books. She edits Poetry Review. She was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2006 and the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2007, and is currently at work on Rough Music and A Century of Poetry Review for Carcanet and Poetry Writing: The Expert Guide for Robert Hale.

Pauline Stainer was born in Stoke-on-Trent. After many years in rural Essex, and then on the Orkney island of Rousay, she now lives in Hadleigh, Suffolk. She is a freelance writer and tutor and has published seven collections of poetry: The Honeycomb, Sighting the Slave Ship, The Ice-Pilot Speaks, The Wound-dresser’s Dream, Parable Island, The Lady & the Hare and Crossing the Snowline. She is at work on a new collection.

Judges: Carol Ann Duffy, David Morley, Dennis O’Driscoll, Carole Satyamurti.

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.

Winners: Liz Berry for The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls, James Brookes for The Stone Operation, Swithun Cooper for Touchpaper the Night, Alex McRae for Joséphine’s Giraffe and Sam Riviere for It Ain’t Honest – £3,500 each.

Liz Berry was born in 1980 in the Black Country. She works as an infant school teacher in London and is studying part-time for an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway. Her poems have appeared in magazines including The North, Smiths Knoll, Mslexia and Poetry Wales.

James Brookes is currently working on his first collection, Joyeuse. He won an Academic Scholarship to Cranleigh School, studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick, and has been Senior Student Editor, then a Contributing Editor, of The Warwick Review. He has lived in rural Sussex for most of the last eighteen years.

Swithun Cooper is a graduate of the Warwick Writing Programme. His poems have been published in magazines and journals including Acumen, The London Magazine and the TES, and in anthologies including New Poetries III (Carcanet). He works as a library assistant and book reviewer, and in his spare time he puts on events with the feminist collective Manifesta. After several years in Yorkshire he now lives in London.

Alex McRae was born in London, where she lives and works full-time as a broadcast journalist for BBC World News television. She was a winner of the 2007 Plough Prize competition, and is working on her first collection.

Sam Riviere was born in Norwich, and is currently working towards a PhD at the University of East Anglia. He began to write poetry whilst at the Norwich School of Art & Design and completed an MA at Royal Holloway. His poems have appeared in various publications and competitions since 2005. He co-edits the anthology series Stop Sharpening Your Knives and was recently selected for the Faber New Poets scheme.

Judges: Moniza Alvi, Polly Clark, Maura Dooley, John Greening, Brian Patten, Carol Rumens.

This year’s Eric Gregory winners will be appearing at the Ledbury Poetry Festival (Box Office: 0845 458 1743/ on Friday 10th July at 11am.

The Tom Gallon Trust Award

A bequest from Miss Nellie Tom-Gallon, who died in 1938, established a trust fund in memory of her brother to make a biennial award to a published fiction writer. The award is made for a short story of traditional, rather than experimental, character.

Winner: Rosemary Mairs for her story, My Father’s Hands – £1,000.

Rosemary Mairs lives in rural Northern Ireland. After graduating from Queen’s University in 1990 she started her own gift-buying business. She now works part-time in order to concentrate on writing. She has won several short story competitions, including the 2006 Writers’ Bureau short story competition and the 2007 Milton Keynes Speakeasy short story competition and has been published in anthologies. She is currently working on a novel.

Specially commended: Huw Lawrence for Keeping On.

Judges: Jane Gardam and Jacob Ross.

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.

Winner: Adam Foulds for The Broken Word (Cape) – £3,000.

Awards: Alice Albinia for Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River (John Murray), Rodge Glass for Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography (Bloomsbury), Henry Hitchings for The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English (John Murray), Thomas Leveritt for The Exchange Rate Between Love and Money (Harvill Secker) and Helen Walsh for Once Upon a Time in England (Canongate) – £1,000 each.

Born in London, Adam Foulds holds an MA in Creative Writing from UEA. His first novel, The Truth About These Strange Times, won a Betty Trask Award in 2007 and also The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2008. His second novel, The Quickening Maze (Cape), was published earlier this year. The Broken Word won the Costa Poetry Prize and the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize in 2008, and was shortlisted for both the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2009. 

Alice Albinia was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge and South Asian history at SOAS. She worked for two and a half years in Delhi as a journalist and editor. Empires of the Indus was awarded an RSL Jerwood Award in 2005.

Rodge Glass was born in Cheshire but has lived in Scotland since 1997. He is the author of two novels, No Fireworks (2005) and Hope for Newborns (2008). He spent three years as a personal assistant to Alasdair Gray before writing his first work of non-fiction, Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography.

Henry Hitchings, theatre critic of the London Evening Standard, is the author of Dr Johnson’s Dictionary, which won the Modern Language Association’s prize for the best book by an independent scholar in 2005. The Secret Life of Words was awarded the 2008 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was also shortlisted for the 2009 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.

Thomas Leveritt, half American, half English, half painter and half writer, was a soldier before he turned to writing and painting, and holds awards from the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. The Exchange Rate Between Love and Money, his first novel, also received a Betty Trask Award in 2008. He lives in London.

Helen Walsh was born in Warrington and now lives in the Wirral. Her first novel, Brass, received a Betty Trask Award in 2005, was also shortlisted for the Portico Prize and is being translated for the screen by writer/director Andrea Arnold. She is adapting her second novel, Once Upon A Time in England, for the screen, whilst working on her next novel.

Judges: M.J. Hyland, Rory Stewart, 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: Paul Farley and Eva Hoffman – £2,000 each.

Paul Farley, born in Liverpool and now living in Lancaster, is the author of three poetry collections.  The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You was awarded a Forward Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award in 1998. The Ice Age was a Poetry Book Society Choice and won the 2002 Whitbread Poetry Award and Tramp in Flames was shortlisted for the International Griffin Prize in 2006. He was the 1999 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. A poet, essayist and critic, he also writes drama and documentary features for BBC Radio. In 2009 he received an RSL Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction and the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is currently working on The Electric Poly-Olbion, due in 2012, and Edgelands, to be published next year.

Eva Hoffman grew up in Cracow, where she studied music before emigrating to Canada and then to the US. She worked as senior editor at The New York Times and has written and lectured internationally on issues of exile, memory, Polish-Jewish history, politics and culture. She has taught literature and creative writing at various universities including the University of East Anglia, Columbia, MIT and Hunter College. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and the Prix Italia for radio. She is the author of Lost in Translation, After Such Knowledge: Memory, History and the Legacy of the Holocaust, and Illuminations. She lives in London and is currently writing an extended essay, ‘Time’.

Judges: Lisa Appignanesi, Jim Crace, Helena Drysdale, Kay Dunbar, 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: Chris Hannan for Missy (Chatto) – £4,000.

Chris Hannan was born in Glasgow and now lives in Edinburgh. He is currently writing a novel, Unearth, due in 2011, and also a new play for the Globe. His plays include the 1990 Bush Theatre hit The Evil Doers, which won a Time Out Award and a Plays and Players Critics’ Award, and the award-winning Shining Souls, which was produced by Sir Peter Hall at the Old Vic in 1997. His work has also been staged by the RSC.

The Shortlist

Rebecca Abrams for Touching Distance (Macmillan)

Gaynor Arnold for Girl in a Blue Dress (Tindal Street Press)

Sadie Jones for The Outcast (Chatto)

J. David Simons for The Credit Draper (Two Ravens Press)

Judges: Andrew Cowan, Lindsey Davis, Frances Fyfield.


The Betty Trask Prize and Award

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.

The Betty Trask Prize winner: Samantha Harvey The Wilderness (Cape) – £12,000.

Samantha Harvey was born in Kent and has lived in Ireland, New Zealand and Japan – writing, travelling and teaching. She has an MA in Philosophy and completed with distinction the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA course in 2005, where she was shortlisted for the PFD prize. She now lives in Bath and recently co-founded an environmental charity.

The Betty Trask Award winner: Eleanor Catton for The Rehearsal (Granta) – £8,000.

Eleanor Catton was born in London, Ontario in Canada but grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand. She has had short stories published in Best New Zealand Fiction Vol. 5 (2008), the new Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories and forthcoming in The Sovereignty of Words. She is working on a second literary novel and a quartet of fantasy novels for young adults. She received the Adam Award in Creative Writing in 2007 for The Rehearsal and won the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition in New Zealand. She is currently on a Fellowship at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Judges: Terence Blacker, Rachel Cusk, Joanna Kavenna.

Other prizes awarded in 2009

The Encore Award

The 2009 Encore Award for the best second novel of 2007 and 2008 has been awarded to Julia Leigh for Disquiet (Faber). The prize of £10,000 was presented by Ali Smith, winner of the award in 2002 with her novel Hotel World, at a reception at the ICA on 19th May. The judges were Alex Clark, Lindsay Duguid and Peter Parker.

The 2009 shortlist

  • Judy Corbalis – Mortmain (Chatto)
  • Eva Hoffman – Illuminations (Harvill Secker)
  • Panos Karnezis – The Birthday Party (Cape)
  • Julia Leigh – Disquiet (Faber)
  • Adam Mars-Jones – Pilcrow (Faber)
  • Sujit Saraf – The Peacock Throne (Sceptre)
  • Indra Sinha – Animal’s People (Simon & Schuster)

To download full details of the Encore Award shortlist click here

The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year

The winner of the The 2009 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, which is administered by the Society of Authors, was announced at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival on Sunday 5th April.

Ross Raisin was chosen as the winner of the £5,000 prize, which is open to writers under 35 of fiction, non-fiction or poetry. His prize-winning novel, God’s Own Country was also given a Betty Trask Award in 2008.

Adam Foulds, who won the Sunday Times award last year, was shortlisted, this time for his narrative poem, The Broken Word.

The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year shortlist:

Adam Foulds for The Broken Word (Cape)

Edward Hogan for Blackmoor (Pocket)

Ross Raisin for God’s Own Country (Penguin)

Henry Hitchings for The Secret Life of Words (J Murray)

Each of the writers on the shortlist were awarded £500.

The two judges for this year’s award are Andrew Holgate, the Sunday Times literary editor, and Peter Kemp, the fiction editor.

For further information contact Paula Johnson / tel: 020 7373 6642.