UK: Neil Rollinson Wins the 2023 Deborah Rogers Writers Foundation Award

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England’s Deborah Rogers Foundation this time honors a published poet who’s producing his first novel, ‘The Dead Don’t Bleed.’

Neil Rollinson. Image: Kay Mitchell

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

Abdulrazak Gurnah Led This Year’s Jury
As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, the Deborah Rogers Foundation, created in 2015, honors the memory of the late Deborah Rogers (1938-2014) who opened her own literary agency in 1967 and, in 1987, formed the influential agency Rogers Coleridge & White. Her sudden death came in the same year that she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing at London Book Fair (in 2024, March 12 to 14).

The foundation’s Writers Award gives £10,000 (US$12,221) to an unpublished writer to enable them to complete a first book.

On Thursday (November 9), the program named Neil Rollinson its winner for his novel The Dead Don’t Bleed, the first time this published poet has worked in prose.

Two runners-up, each receiving £1,000 (US$1,221), are Michelle Alipao for a collection of essays titled The Dying Embers of Our Setting Sun, and Alicia McAuley for a book of short stories titled The Caul.

Rollinson is a native of Yorkshire and lives in northeastern England. Formerly a student of painting at St. Martins School of Art, he’s a published poet, having produced four collections with Penguin Random House’s Jonathan Cape in its Cape Poetry line. Among those works, his Talking Dead won the 2015 poetry prize in the now-discontinued Costa Book Awards series.

Rollinson regularly teaches poetry at universities including Bath Spa, the London University of the Arts, and Oxford Brookes.

The jury for the 2023 award from the foundation was led by Abdulrazak Gurnah, the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature winner (read our interview with him here). He was joined on the panel by Claire Adam, whose own debut, Golden Child, was published by Faber & Faber, and by the journalist Annalena McAfee, who founded and edited the Guardian Review for six years.

In a note from Gurnah about the jury’s work, we read, “The panel read through a longlist of nine pieces of writing.

“There was a great deal to admire in all of them and we congratulate all the submitted writers and their achievements.

“We arrived at our shortlist after intense and pleasurable discussion and unanimously chose The Dead Don’t Bleed as the recipient of the Deborah Rogers Foundation Prize.”

Gurnah made the announcement of Rollinson’s win on Thursday in an event at Faber, The Bindery, in London.

The jury this time started with 864 entries, chose a longlist of nine works and a shortlist of three.


More from Publishing Perspectives on book and publishing awards is here, more on the Deborah Rogers Foundation is here, more on literary agents is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s market 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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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