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 19 May 2016. The closing date for entries is Friday 5 February 2016. This prize is now in its sixth year, and we are inviting people to submit work to be considered for the prize, subject to the following 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.

  3. The novel must be unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or be self-published.

  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 that may be up to 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 closing date for receipt of submissions is Friday 5 February 2016. Any entries received after this date 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 up to 50 pages of the novel, in black ink on white A4 paper, 1.5 line spacing, 12 point font. 
  • A PDF of up to 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 name (and legal name if you wish to enter under a pen name), address, phone number, email address, title of novel submitted and confirmation that you are over 21.
  • You will need to pay a small 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.


The Judges


Allison Pearson (Daily Telegraph/author) 

Shortlist judges

Dame Margaret Drabble DBE FRSL (novelist, biographer and critic)

Professor Steve Connor (Professor of English, University of Cambridge, Fellow of Peterhouse)

Cathy Moore (Festival Director, Cambridge Literary Festival)

Gillian Stern

Longlist judges

Nelle Andrew (Peters Fraser & Dunlop)

Dr Lindsey Traub (Former Fellow in English, Lucy Cavendish College)

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.

For any queries, please contact:

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

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 dinner at Lucy Cavendish College on the evening of Thursday 19 May 2016. Industry representatives will also be present at the dinner, as will Fellows and students of the college.

Allison Pearson will announce the winner and award the prize of £1,500.00 at a drinks reception at the beginning of the evening. All five 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 a college of the University of Cambridge which is uniquely for women over 21. The college is a diverse intellectual community of Fellows and graduate and undergraduate students working in all fields of science (including medicine and veterinary medicine), law, and a wide range of subjects in the arts and humanities. Our striking feature is the variety of our students: women from around the UK study alongside women from all over the world; those with top A-levels and excellent International Baccalaureate grades are joined by students with 'Access' and other qualifications. Recent graduates coming here for further study interact with undergraduates who have been police officers, dancers, bankers and journalists. Within Cambridge, Lucy Cavendish offers a new take on the tradition of academic excellence.

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