The Crime Writers' Association

The Daggers

The CWA Daggers are the premier literary crime-writing awards in the United Kingdom. Entries to seven of our eleven Daggers are nominated by publishers and judged independently of the CWA by industry professionals. For details of each Dagger, eligibility for submission and a list of previous winners and shortlisted authors, click on the relevant Dagger below.

From 2020/21, we amended the judging period so that the publication of books nominated is much closer to when longlists, shortlists and winners are announced.

For Daggers 2023 – that is, for titles published and nominated in 2022 – we are making some changes. First, most Daggers will now come with cash prizes. This will reinstate a popular tradition and increase the Daggers’ prestige. Second, following the decision to admit as members self-published crime writers who can demonstrate their professionalism, then, also for Daggers 2023, we are allowing authors to self-nominate their eligible titles for the Daggers. This is of course in addition to the usual route open to publishers to nominate their titles. Self-published authors who publish in the UK and are members of the CWA, and any traditionally published author whose books are published in the UK will be able to self-nominate their titles for eligible Daggers. They will need to pay the nomination fee, although any CWA member continues to benefit from the discount.

Publishers are of course encouraged to keep nominating their titles – with the discount for CWA member books, just as before – and we expect the majority of Dagger nominations to come from publishers. Please note, nominations have now closed for Daggers 2022. This new ruling is for Daggers 2023 and for books published and nominated in 2022. We will announce the prize details in 2022.

Dagger winners 2021 were announced at Daggers Live, an online awards ceremony on Thursday 1 July. Congratulations to all our winners, to our wonderful speaker Abir Mukherjee, to our MC the unflappable Barry Forshaw and to technomeister Antony Johnston. Many thanks to our lovely audience! The recording is available on the CWA YouTube channel. The list of winners is available in a downloadable pdf from this page.

For Daggers 2022, the work submitted must be published in the UK or Ireland between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021. Submissions were split into two periods – from 1 January to 30 June 2021 and from 1 July to 31 December 2021. Nominations are now closed.

There are four Daggers which are not nominated by publishers. The Debut Dagger is a competition for the opening of a crime novel by a writer who isn’t represented by an agent by the time the competition closes, and who has never had a traditional contract for a novel. The Debut Dagger opens for entries on 1 October and runs to the last working day in February the following year. The Dagger in the Library is for an author who has been writing crime novels for over 10 years, is popular with library users and who in turn supports libraries. Authors are nominated by librarians from a long list of eligible candidates supplied by the Dagger judges, and the window for nominating is also autumn to the following February. The most recent innovation (2019), the Publishers’ Dagger, is nominated by an industry committee in consultation with authors. The most prestigious Dagger of all, the Diamond Dagger for a lifetime contribution to crime writing, is nominated by CWA members. A shortlist is selected by a specialist committee and the winner voted on by the CWA Board.



View the winners archive