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UK’s biggest prize fund to celebrate literature in 2018 – Society of Authors awards open for entries

The Society of Authors starts the search for next year’s recipients of the UK’s biggest literary prize fund.

The Society of Authors is inviting entries for its 2018 Authors’ Awards. Run by authors for authors, the prizes make up the UK’s biggest literary prize fund. A total of £94k was awarded in 2017.

At a ceremony next summer, this unique range of prizes will celebrate the work of more than 20 writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction – many just launching their literary careers, others well established.

Three of the awards celebrate younger authors, with the Betty Trask Prize and Awards and Somerset Maugham Awards given to writers under 35, while the Eric Gregory Awards are given to poets under 30. Past winners at the beginning of their careers include Zadie Smith (2001), Carol Ann Duffy (1984) and Hari Kunzru (2002).

Five awards

The Society of Authors is inviting entries for five awards.

  • Betty Trask Prize and Awards
    For a first novel* by a writer under 35. ​Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund at least £20,000.
  • Eric Gregory Awards
    For a collection of poems* by a poet under 30. Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, Tom Chivers, Helen Mort and Alan Hollinghurst. Total award fund £20,000.
  • McKitterick Prize
    For a first novel* by a writer over 40. Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Total prize fund £5,000.
  • Somerset Maugham Awards
    For published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable young writers to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Past winners include Hari Kunzru, Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. Total prize fund £10,000.
  • Tom-Gallon Trust Award
    For a short story* by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Total award fund £1,500.

* – open to published (including self-published) or unpublished works.

The Eric Gregory Awards, McKitterick Prize and Tom-Gallon Trust Award are open for entries until 31 October. The deadline for entries to the Betty Trask Prize and Awards and the Somerset Maugham Awards is 30 November.

At the 2018 ceremony we will also present the Cholmondeley Awards to recognise the achievement and distinction of individual poets, the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography and The Travelling Scholarships to enable creative writers to keep in touch with their colleagues abroad.

New eligibility criteria for 2018

A public consultation in 2016 led to approval from the Charity Commission to modernise the eligibility criteria for three of our prizes to make them more inclusive.

The original criteria, established between 1946-1984, had restricted entries based on author’ nationality. The Somerset Maugham and Eric Gregory Funds required authors to be a British subject by birth, while the Betty Trask Foundation was restricted to citizens of the Commonwealth. We felt these criteria failed to represent the UK’s diverse cultural landscape.

Under the updated terms, authors must either be a British national or have been resident in Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or in the case of the Betty Trask Foundation, the Commonwealth) for three years prior to the date of submission for the award.

The new criteria will be in effect for the first time in the 2018 awards, and we look forward to welcoming an even more diverse range of entries.

  • About the Society of Authors
    The Society of Authors is the trade union of more than 10,000 writers, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. They have been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century. They manage and administer prizes and awards for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and translation, and grants for works in progress and writers in need. They distribute more than £400,000 in awards and grants each year.
  • About the Authors’ Awards
    The Authors’ Awards is a collection of literary prizes and awards, the oldest started in 1946. Run by authors for authors the prizes make up the UK’s biggest literary prize fund. A total of £94k was awarded in 2017 to celebrate poetry, fiction and non-fiction.


Martin Reed, Head of Communications, Society of Authors / +44 (0)20 7373 6642