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£45,000 of support for new writers in the North

20th November 2019

Northumbria University is once again supporting the annual Northern Writers’ Awards, which have opened for their 21st year.

Writers from across the North of England have until midnight on Thursday 6 February 2020 to submit their work-in-progress to this year’s Awards.

The Northern Writers’ Awards were founded by New Writing North in 2000 and exist to recognise talent and support new work towards publication or broadcast.

The awards are the largest of their kind in England and have a reputation for identifying some of the country’s best unpublished writing.

There are a variety of categories open this year, including the Northumbria University Student and Alumni Award, worth £2000, for fiction or poetry, which is open to final year Northumbria students and recent graduates in any discipline.

The Northern Writers’ Awards are for work-in-progress and more than 300 writers have been supported to date, including Yvonne Battle-Felton, whose debut novel Remembered went on to be longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction; Andrew McMillan for his debut poetry collection, physical, which won the Guardian First Book Award; Benjamin Myers for his novel Beastings, which won the Portico Prize for Literature; and Jayshree Patel, who won a Channel 4 Writing for Television Award which offered her a placement with Lime Pictures: she is now a member of the Hollyoaks writing team.

Other previous winners include the novelists CJ Cooke, Mari Hannah and Okechukwu Nzelu; short story writers Carys Davies and Angela Readman; and poets Zaffar Kunial, Phoebe Power and Vidyan Ravinthiran.

Judges for this year’s awards include the writers Naomi Booth, Vahni Capildeo, Mitch Johnson and Amy Liptrot; literary agent Chloe Seager, from the Madeleine Milburn Agency; bookseller Gary Deane, from Waterstones; and editor Kris Doyle, from Picador.

The Northern Writers’ Awards offer support for writers at all stages of their careers, including mentoring, developmental support and cash awards to buy time to write.

In addition to individual awards, New Writing North supports its winners with ongoing tailored support. In 2020 selected winners will be offered additional opportunities including the chance to pitch work to literary agents and editors at the Summer Talent Salon in London; membership of The Society of Authors; a professional development session with the leading independent publisher, Oneworld Publications; plus a visit to literary agent Madeleine Milburn Associates for advisory sessions.

During the Northern Writers’ Awards submission window, New Writing North and Dead Ink Books are also accepting free submissions for Test Signal, a new crowd-funded anthology of northern writing, including fiction and narrative non-fiction.

The awards available for 2020 are:

  • The Northern Writers’ Awards, flagship awards strand, which offers cash prizes of up to £5000 to support writers of fiction, narrative non-fiction, YA, graphic novels, short stories and poetry.
  • The Hachette Children’s Novel Award is open to debut children’s writers with a full-length manuscript. The winner will receive £5000 and a guarantee of publication with the Hachette Children’s Group, whose list includes authors such as: David Almond, Jessica Townsend, Onjali Q. Raúf, Cressida Cowell, Piers Torday and 2019’s winner, James Harris. The writer will also have access to other developmental opportunities offered by New Writing North.
  • The NorthBound Book Award, in partnership with Saraband, is open to new, emerging and established writers of fiction or narrative non-fiction. This award is for a full manuscript and the winning writer will receive £5000, a guarantee of publication with Saraband and access to New Writing North’s development programmes. Saraband is a leading independent publisher, whose list includes Graeme Macrae Burnet, Chitra Ramaswamy and Ever Dundas.
  • The Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards offer two emerging writers development opportunities within television. One writer will receive a mentoring placement with Lime Pictures working on their award-winning serial drama Hollyoaks for Channel 4 and E4. The second writer will develop an original TV drama project with Bonafide Films, whose recent shows include The Last Post by Peter Moffat for BBC One. Both winners will receive a bursary of £3000.
  • The Northern Debut Awards programme offers structured developmental support to four writers of fiction, young adult fiction or narrative non-fiction who are yet to publish a full-length novel or collection of short stories. The package of support includes a £2000 bursary, mentoring from a practising writer and access to New Writing North’s development activities. One place will be made in memory of the North East writer Andrea Badenoch (1951-2004), whose novels include Blink and Loving Geordie, and will be awarded to a debut female writer over the age of 42.
  • The Northumbria University Student and Alumni Award, worth £2000, for fiction or poetry, is open to final year students and recent graduates of the university in any discipline.
  • The Sid Chaplin Award, in partnership with Newcastle University and The North Literary Agency, supports writers of fiction and narrative non-fiction who identify as originating from a working-class background. The winning writer will receive a bursary of £2000 and a comprehensive package of support including advisory support and a manuscript appraisal from The Literary Consultancy. The award is made in memory of the writer Sid Chaplin (1916–1986) whose novels including The Day of the Sardine and The Watchers and the Watched are celebrated for their vivid depictions of working-class life.
  • TLC Free Reads Scheme, which offers up to three poets or prose writers an in-depth editorial report from The Literary Consultancy and a £500 bursary.
  • The Arvon Award, which offers a prose writer the chance to undertake an Arvon residential creative writing course.
  • The Matthew Hale Award, for writers aged 12-18 and worth £500, is for talented young writers who might otherwise lack the opportunity to pursue their writing promise.
  • The Young Northern Writer Award, worth £200, will recognise one young writer between 12 and 18 years old whose work shows exceptional promise.

The Northern Writers’ Awards are produced by New Writing North with support from Northumbria University and Arts Council England. The full suite of awards is made possible by a range of vital partnerships with Arvon, Bonafide Films, Channel 4, Hachette Children’s Group, Lime Pictures, The Literary Consultancy, Madeleine Millburn Agency, Newcastle University, The North Literary Agency, Oneworld Publications, Saraband and The Society of Authors, as well as generous donations from individual donors.

Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North, said: “The act of writing a new novel, poetry collection or original television script is never easy. Finding an outlet for that work can be even harder. Through the Northern Writers’ Awards we set out to support writers in both these challenges: we identify gifted writers in the North of England, investing belief and resources in their talent before helping them to find pathways into what at times can seem a distant and unforgiving industry. The awards have always been about the writers and, as always, we look forward to a season of discovery, surprise and admiration as we work our way through this year’s submissions.”

Professor Katy Shaw, Professor of Contemporary Writings at Northumbria University said: “The Northern Writers’ Awards profile the best new writing from the better half of the country on a national stage. The awards have a recognised pedigree in spotting new talent and diverse voices and developing work-in-progress into print. The pedigree of past winners is a testament to the vitality and relevance of the awards programme, and the range of judges and prizes for 2020 represents the best of contemporary writing today.”

Enter online at by Thursday 6 February 2020.

Donate to the Northern Writers’ Awards to support new writing from the North of England at

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Humanities At Northumbria Is Composed Of Three Subject Teams: History, Literature & Creative Writing, And English Language & Linguistics, And Is Also Developing Strengths In The Fields Of American Studies And Heritage Studies.

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