UK’s Society of Authors Awards Honor 32 Writers in Prize Fund of £100,000

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Multiple honorees in many of the prize categories this year provide more writers with wins, if smaller cash awards for each winner.

At the Society of Authors Awards program on June 17, in Southwark Cathedral. Image: Adrian Pope, Society of Authors

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

500 Guests Attend Announcement

As we reported in April, the nine authors’ awards administered by the UK’s Society of Authors this year broke a new record in terms of combined prize money for honorees, with a total £100,000 (US$126,727) at stake.

The awards program was held on Monday (June 17) at London’s Southwark Cathedral.

The society is the UK trade union for writers, with more than 10,000 members. In 2019, its various awards programs will dispense a total of more than £600,000 (US$762,147) in prizes and grants.

2019 Society of Authors Award Winners

Somerset Maugham Award: Four writers, each awarded £4,000 (US$5,086)

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.

  • Raymond Antrobus for The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins)
  • Damian Le Bas for The Stopping Places (Chatto & Windus)
  • Phoebe Power for Shrines of Upper Austria (Caranet)
  • Nell Stevens for Mrs. Gaskell and Me (Picador)

Betty Trask Prize: James Clarke, The Litten Path (Salt), £10,000 (US$12,677)

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.

James Clark, winner of the 2019 Betty Trask Prize. Image: Tom Pilston, Society of Authors

Betty Trask Awards: Six writers, each awarded £2,700 (US$3,424)

  • Samuel Fisher: The Chameleon (Salt)
  • Imogen Hermes Gowar: The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock (Harvill Secker)
  • Ruqaya Izzidien: The Watermelon Boys (Hoopoe/Auc Press)
  • Daisy Lafarge: Paul (unpublished)
  • Rebecca Ley: Sweet Fruit, Sour Land (Sandstone Press)
  • Sophie Macintosh: The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)

Paul Torday Memorial Prize (first year)

The inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer older than 60. The prize offers £1,000 (US$1,270) plus a set of the collected works of Torday, who published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at 60.

  • Winner: Anne Youngson, Meet Me at the Museum (Doubleday), £1,000 (US$1,260)
  • Runner-up: Norma MacMaster, Silence Under a Stone (Doubleday Ireland)

Eric Gregory Awards: Six poets, each awarded £4,725 (US$5,990)

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

  • Mary Jean Chan: A Hurry of English
  • Sophie Collins: Who Is Mary Sue?
  • Seán Hewitt: Lantern
  • Dominic Leonard: This Mysterious
  • James Connor Patterson: Bandit Country
  • Phoebe Stuckes: Platinum Blonde

McKitterick Prize

  • Winner: Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Swan Song (Hutchinson), £4,000 (US$)5,072)
  • Runner-up: Carys Davies, West (Granta Books), £1,250 (US$1,585)

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

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award

  • Winner: Dima Alzayat, Once We Were Syrians, £1,000 (US$1,269)
  • Runner-up: Bunmi Ogunsiji, Blessing, £500 US$634)

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.

The Traveling Scholarships:  Awarded, £1,600 each (US$2,032) to writers’ travel support

  • Kathryn Hughes
  • Damian Le Bas
  • Nadifa Mohamed
  • Johny Pitts
  • Gwendoline Riley

Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography: Julian Jackson, A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle (Allen Lange), £5,000 (US$6,353)

Cholmondeley Awards: Four poets, each awarded £2,100 (US$2,663)

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.

  • Malika Booker
  • Fred D’Aiguiar
  • Allen Fisher
  • Jamie McKendrick

Society of Authors president Philip Pullman speaks at the awards program on June 17. Image: Adrian Pope, Society of Authors


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here. And more from us on the Society of Authors is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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