2019 Society of Authors’ Awards value to exceed £100K

17 April 2019

Announcing our esteemed panel of award-winning judges for the SoA's annual night of literary riches.

The value of the Society of Authors’ Awards is set to exceed £100,000 for the first time this year. Presented by a panel of celebrated judges, including Kate Mosse, Gary Younge, Mark Lawson, Anita Sethi, Susan Hill, Tahmima Anam, Pascale Petit, Inua Ellams and Jen Campbell, the combined value of the nine Awards will be over £100,000.

The Society of Authors' Awards, an annual celebration which has rewarded the early works of some of today’s most prominent literary figures such as Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon and honoured the careers of established figures including Dylan Thomas, Fay Weldon, William Golding and Margaret Drabble, will see the UK’s biggest literary fund awarded to more than 20 established and emerging writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  

The 2019 Society of Authors’ Awards will take place at Southwark Cathedral on the evening of Monday 17th June, sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), playing host to 500 guests from across publishing and SoA membership. 

In a unique evening nine key awards will be announced, each judged by celebrated authors, writers and poets; many former winners themselves. 

Shortlists for the 2019 Awards will be announced on Wednesday 15th May 2019. 

Meet the judges for each award 

Betty Trask Prize and Awards

Judged by Ben Brooks, Elanor Dymott and Vaseem Khan 

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. The winner of last year’s Betty Trask Prize was Omar Robert Hamilton for The City Always Wins.

Novelist and Betty Trask Award judge, Elanor Dymott, says: 

“It's thrilling to read so many rich, perplexing, startling, strange and beautiful books for this prize. It’s a continual reminder of what a luxury it is to sink into a really, really good novel, and how difficult it will be, when pressed, to choose the pick of the bunch.”

Eric Gregory Awards 

Judged by Vahni Capildeo, Inua Ellams, John Greening, Katherine Pierpoint, Michael Symmons Roberts and Ahren Warner 

The Eric Gregory Awards are presented for a collection of poems by a poet under 30. Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, Tom Chivers, Helen Mort and Alan Hollinghurst.

Poet and Eric Gregory Award judge Ahren Warner says: 

“As a previous winner (and a repeat entrant for years before that), I’m aware of the importance of the Eric Gregory Awards, of how – at a particular moment in a young poet’s life – they have a totemic quality, something to aim for, a horizon of possibility. And yet, in the actual act of judging, the overwhelming feeling is one of privilege, of being able to have advanced warning of the brilliant new poets that are arriving and doing what one can to direct poetry readers’ attention to exactly where they should be looking.” 

McKitterick Prize 

Judged by Susan Hill, Chris Tayler and Abir Mukherjee 

The McKitterick Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40. Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Last year’s winner was Anietie Isong for Radio Sunrise.

Award winning novelist and McKitterick Prize judge Abir Mukherjee says: 

“The McKitterick Prize makes an important statement that it’s never too late to write your first novel. Talent is what matters, regardless of age. What’s more, the books that make our list are better for the wealth of life experience with which their authors imbue them.” 

Paul Torday Memorial Prize 

Judged by Mark Lawson, Kate Mosse and Anita Sethi 

The inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize will be awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60.

Journalist, broadcaster, author and Paul Torday Memorial Prize judge Mark Lawson says: 

“Writing has always had the distinction of being a profession with no fixed retirement age. This prize, remembering a writer whose late bright career I greatly admired, vitally reminds us that it is also a job with no mandatory starting date. In creativity, the motto 'better late than never' is entirely true, and this award powerfully reinforces the message.” 

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award 

Judged by Stuart Evers and Irenosen Okojie 

Sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Previous winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman.

Former Betty Trask Award winner and judge for the ALCS Tom-Gallon Award 2019 Irenosen Okojie says: 

“It is a joy to judge the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award. The ideas, scope and variety of the stories reflects a thriving short form and fantastic voices committed to exploring the art of short stories with verve and dedication.” 

Somerset Maugham Awards 

Judged by Jen Campbell, Barney Norris and Ian Thomson 

The Somerset Maugham Awards are for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Past winners include Hari Kunzru, Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland.

Award-winning poet, short story writer and judge for the Somerset Maugham Awards 2018 Jen Campbell says: 

“It's always a pleasure to judge the Somerset Maugham Award. The prize covers so much ground: poetry, non-fiction, novels. You never know what you're going to read next and it's a privilege to sift for gold and reward writers with the funds to travel, explore and collect more tales to write about.” 

Cholmondeley Awards 

Judged by Paul Farley, Drew Milne, Grace Nichols and Pascale Petit 

The Cholmondeley Awards are awarded for a body of work by a poet. Previous winners have included Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard and Andrew Motion.

Poet and Cholmondeley Award assessor Pascale Petit says: 

“At a time when novelty, youth, and emergent poets are highlighted in prizes and the media, I relish being a judge for the Cholmondeley awards. They are exemplary in valuing poets for their body of work and their overall contribution to British poetry, rewarding persistence and those who are quietly working away at their craft for decades, sometimes overlooked. What’s also commendable is how the Society of Authors ensures the four assessors come from diverse strands of the broad poetry church, so each brings a different perspective.” 

Travelling Scholarships 

Judged by Tahmima Anam, Adam O’Riordan, Sameer Rahim, Jane Ridley and Gary Younge 

The Travelling Scholarships were established in 1944 to enable British creative writers to keep in contact with writing colleagues abroad. Previous recipients have included C. Day-Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Laurie Lee, Margaret Drabble and Helen Simpson.

Writer and columnist, and judge for the Travelling Scholarship Awards 2019, Tahmima Anam, says: 

“It's a great privilege to be able to serve as an assessor for the Society of Authors' Travelling Scholarships. The scholarship encourages travel, cross-cultural research and exchange, and diversity -- all wonderful for writers at any stage of the process. As a recipient of the Scholarship several years ago, I understand the delight of receiving an unexpected boost in the midst of working in solitude on a project, so it's wonderful to be able to contribute in some small way to the continuing success of these awards.” 

Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography 

Judged by Richard Davenport-Hines, Roy Foster (chair), Antonia Fraser, Flora Fraser and Rana Mitter.