Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, is delighted to announce that its annual Fiction Prize for a first novel by a woman will be awarded on Thursday 25 May 2017. The deadline for entries is 12 noon Friday 10 February 2017. This prize is now in its seventh year, and we are inviting people to submit work to be considered for the prize, subject to the following terms and conditions:

Terms and conditions

1. The prize is for the opening of a novel by a woman over the age of 21 that marries literary merit with unputdownability. Entrants must be resident in the UK or Ireland.

2. The novel may be on any subject at all. We welcome submissions of literary fiction and genre fiction equally. Novels for young adults or children are acceptable if they are mainly word-based; picture books are excluded.  Jointly authored novels and short stories are not eligible for submission.

3. The novel must be unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or be self-published (publishing of the novel on a blog or website, in part or full, does not make novel ineligible for this competition).  Authors must not have agent representation at the time of entry submission.

4. Each novel must have a title, even if this is only a working title, for ease of administrative processing.

5. Anyone who has previously published a full-length novel is not eligible to enter the competition. If you have previously self-published a novel, you may enter as long as your submission is a different novel from the one you have previously self-published. Writers who have previously published in other genres, (i.e. not a novel), are eligible to enter.

6. The opening of your novel must be accompanied by a synopsis of the remainder of the work should be between 5 and 10 pages long. The form the synopsis takes is left to the discretion of the entrant - it might be a detailed breakdown of the remainder of the plot, or a few paragraphs that give a flavour/overview. The novel does not need to be complete in order to be entered for the competition. It is acceptable to enter novels-in-progress and/or the opening of a novel you would like to write, or intend to write.

7. No current Lucy Cavendish College fellows, students or staff members, and no relatives thereof, may enter the competition.

8. The entrance fee is £12.00. Only one entry per person is permitted.

9. Should an entrant be shortlisted for the prize, they grant Lucy Cavendish College the right to publish their entry on the College website for publicity purposes, though copyright remains with the author concerned at all times. 

10. The deadline for receipt of submissions is 12 noon, Friday 10 February 2017. Any entries received after this deadline will not be considered.

How to submit your work

Entries must be submitted via the online form.

You will need to submit:

  • A PDF of between 40 and 50 concurrent pages of the start of the novel, in black ink on white A4 paper, 1.5 line spacing, 12 point font.
  • A PDF of between 5 and 10 pages of synopsis, in black ink on white A4 paper, 1.5 line spacing. All pages should be numbered, and the manuscript and the synopsis should be numbered separately.
  • You will also need to complete fields with your legal name (and pen name, if you write under a pen name), address, phone number, email address, title of novel submitted and confirmation that you are over 21.  PLEASE NOTE: for those reaching the longlist stage, your name and email address (only) may be passed on to members of the judging panel.
  • You will need to pay an entry fee of £12.00.

Due to the volume of entries received it is not possible for the judges to provide feedback on non-shortlisted entries.

For any queries, please contact Helen Kirkby at:

Any entrant found to be in contravention of any of the terms and conditions contained in this document will be automatically disqualified.

The judges’ decision will be final. The judges reserve the right not to award the prize if they think that none of the entries are of sufficient merit.


The Shortlist, the Prize-giving Dinner and the Prize

The judges will draw up a shortlist of five submissions. Those five entrants, plus one guest per shortlisted entrant, will be invited to the prize-giving drinks reception and celebratory dinner at Lucy Cavendish College on the evening of Thursday 25 May 2017. Industry representatives will also be present at the dinner, as will Fellows and students of the college.

Allison Pearson, Chair of the judging panel, will announce the winner and award the prize of £1,500.00 at a drinks reception at the beginning of the evening.  All shortlistees will have the chance to meet industry representatives at the reception.

All five shortlistees will be offered one-to-one consultations with Nelle Andrew who will provide editorial feedback and discuss the marketability of their work.


About Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

Lucy Cavendish is the only women's college in Europe exclusively for students aged 21 or over, and a unique part of the University of Cambridge. Its undergraduate and postgraduate students come from over sixty countries, and a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Many have changed careers or overcome significant challenges in order to reach University. The College is particularly strong in Medicine, Law, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, the Social Sciences and English.

In this section

Vicki Jarrett, Shortlisted Author

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"The Fiction Prize shortlisting was very important to me at an early stage of my writing career." Vicki Jarrett, 2016

Our Fiction Prize

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Just how did we choose our winner?

Find out more